New Highway 53 Bridge Dedicated
Bridge Near Virginia Will Soon Be Open to Traffic
VIRGINIA, Minn. – The new Highway 53 bridge is almost complete.
It’s the tallest bridge in Minnesota. Soon it will be open to traffic. Iron rangers and state officials dedicated the new bridge to the public on Friday.
“Are you ready to celebrate?” asked U.S. Representative Rick Nolan (DFL-Minn.) at the dedication ceremony.
At over two hundred feet tall, the bridge is definitely a cause for celebration.
“It’s made with all one hundred percent American made steel, built by a hundred percent union workers and contractors and one of the finest bridges you’ll see anywhere here in this country or in this world,” said Nolan.
It’s an impressive symbol of what’s possible on Minnesota’s Iron Range.
“This project is a testimony to the strength of the Range because projects like this don’t just happen,” said Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith (DFL). “Projects like this take a village, well I would say in particular they take an Iron Range village.”
Crews are putting on the finishing touches and, weather permitting, it could be open to traffic later this weekend.
“We’re going to have cars coming in down second avenue to businesses that need that work done and those shoppers coming in without detouring and there’s no better feeling than to be close to that getting done,” said State Representative Jason Metsa (DFL-Virginia).
The new bridge is part of the Highway 53 relocation project. The road is being moved so Cliffs Natural Resources can expand their mine where the highway now runs.
“In order to mine the ore, you must mine it where mother nature put it, and sometimes that requires a little bit of innovative thinking,” said State Senator David J. Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm).
Iron Rangers hope the expansion means that mining in Northern Minnesota will continue for many years.
“We extended the life of Cleveland Cliffs at EVTAC and will have future opportunities for workers to continue working there for another few generations,” said Metsa.
For all that time, a new colossal structure will serve as a symbol of the industry that helped build the region.
“For the next one hundred years, this monument will forever remind us the importance mining plays in our everyday lives,” said Tomassoni.
As soon as traffic moves onto the new bridge, crews will begin removing the old Highway 53.