Posted at: 02/22/2013 1:44 PM
Updated at: 02/22/2013 10:45 PM
The Minnesota Department of Transportation says U.S. Highway 53 will not be relocated through a mine pit in the Virginia area.
The state needs to relocate Highway 53 by 2017 because United Taconite, owned by Cliffs Natural Resources, plans to mine ore located under the current road bed. MnDOT had been focusing on two possibilities the most: a shorter route through the Auburn Pit and a longer route to the northeast.
MnDOT says at a meeting Thursday, Cliffs officials said the company would not grant an easement for the route to go through the pit. MnDOT says Cliffs cited a number of concerns, including risk to future mining in the corridor, environmental compliance, and the risk to motorists traveling through an active mining area.
MnDOT said it would continue to move forward with the Highway 53 relocation project and does not anticipate major changes to the proposed schedule.
Project manager Roberta Dwyer said that they will decide within a week if they will evaluate the options they have, or go back and start exploring additional ones.
She said the city of Virginia has seen some positive with the option around the eastern edge of Virginia, like the placement of utilities and the Mesabi Trail.