MnDOT announces preferred route for moving Iron Range highway to make way for mine expansion


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VIRGINIA, Minnesota — The Minnesota Department of Transportation has announced its preferred route for relocating U.S. Highway 53 to make way for a mine expansion on the Iron Range, and it would include one of the highest bridges in the state.

MnDOT said Tuesday it's recommending the northernmost route under consideration, which includes a 1,100-foot-long bridge over an abandoned mine pit outside of Virginia. The project is expected to cost about $220 million.

MnDOT says the E-2 route posed fewer challenges and had the lowest cost of all the alternatives. The agency decided against another route over the water-filled pit and a route over an existing mine.

The state is required to move Highway 53 because Cliffs Natural Resources plans to exercise its right to mine iron ore under the existing roadway.

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