Final Week Before New Highway 53 for Mining Opens

September 07, 2017 10:16 PM

There are eight days of waiting left until the new Highway 53 for mining opens to traffic.

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MnDOT has scheduled the opening for Friday the 15th in the evening, with a dedication planned for the morning with local, state, and federal leaders.

Until that time, crews are out finishing up different projects along the three mile stretch.

"They're working on slopes, ditches, drainage. There's another layer of asphalt that needs to be put down next week. Signing and striping. It's like the days before a wedding ceremony. It's a mad dash, and you know the date that things have to be done by," explained Pat Huston, the project director for MnDOT.

He showed us around on Thursday. Rain has slowed work on some parts of the project. And we dodged a few drops as well. But we were able to drive the whole stretch, from 2nd Avenue where it connects in the city to the portion which connects in Midway.

Huston said he's been fielding quite a few questions about the bridge, which is going to be the tallest in Minnesota.

"Some people are concerned about how high it is. But really, when you cross it, all you can see is the horizon. Feedback from people on the bridge is that it's not scary," he said.

He also did the math. "If you're driving the speed limit, which is 50 miles per hour, you're on the bridge for 15 seconds."

Once the road opens for traffic, you'll still see some lane closures and construction going on for a bit. The Highway 135 interchange may not be completely open yet. But the majority of the work will be winding down.

Then, MnDOT is tasked with removing the old road, so United Taconite can mine through there. They have until November 15th to get that part of the project done.

The public will be invited to the dedication on Friday, the 15th. It's at 10:30am. We are awaiting more details from the agency about how to access the event area, which will be under the bridge.


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