Highway 53 Bridge Dedicated to Late State Rep. Tom Rukavina

On Thursday, the bridge he fought so hard to build back in 2017 was officially dedicated to him.

VIRGINIA, Minn. — “He often urged people to buy American-made products. In fact, he would tell you even his underwear was made in the U.S.A by union workers. If you didn’t believe him, he would volunteer to prove it to you,” District 6 Senator, David Tomassoni says.

Former Minnesota House Representative Tom Rukavina passed away two years ago after a long battle with leukemia.

On Thursday, the bridge he fought so hard to build back in 2017 was officially dedicated to him.

“As people travel across and visit this bridge, it’s the hope of Senator Smith and I think all of us here that we will remember our ranges champion, Tommy Rukavina,” Virginia Resident, Peter Makowski says.

A long-time iron range resident, Rukavina made his mark on several large range organizations including the IRRB and Giants Ridge in Biwabik.

“Tommy’s love for this area is not only reflected in this bridge that bears his name, but also the Rukavina engineering center in Virginia,” Makowski says.

Rukavina was most known for his positive effect on others which was mirrored by dozens of speakers at Thursday’s event.

“How appropriate to name the tallest bridge in Minnesota as such a giant in politics as Tom Rukavina,” Tomassoni says.

“My dad ran for office and served the people of the range for love. Love for the people. Love for the range. Love for Minnesota. Love for our nation and the world,” Daughter, Ida Rukavina says.

Even with the pandemic causing a delay for the highway 53 bridge dedication last year, those who attended the ceremony were grateful to continue the memory of an iron range legend.

“This bridge signifies who Tom really was. Bigger than life. American made. Union. All of these different this like they said, joining communities together. If this bridge would not have been built that mine life would have ended losing jobs,” District 6B Representative, Dave Lislegard says.

 

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