Expense Versus Business Versus Environment Makes Route Difficult

Reading the Duluth News Tribune article about a proposed Highway 53 reroute explains the serious problems in choosing new locations for roads. Balancing the additional expense of a project against the environmental impacts and against the economic impacts makes route choice difficult under the best of circumstances.


The option of rerouting U.S. Highway 53 through the middle of Cliffs Natural Resources’ Thunderbird mine in Eveleth-Virginia is still on the state’s list of options, even though the company still is saying no way.

Local businesses, state and federal lawmakers and even the Minnesota Department of Transportation lean toward that route because it is the most direct, least expensive and doesn’t bypass any businesses. But Cliffs said last month that the through-mine route simply isn’t workable. And, despite claims by some local officials to the contrary, Sandy Karnowski, Cliffs spokeswoman in Minnesota, said the company has not changed its stand.

“We still do not support that reroute for many different reasons,” Karnowski told the News Tribune on Thursday. “Nothing has changed for us.”

She said Cliffs opposes the through-mine route because of safety and operational concerns and because the new road might cover up valuable ore. Moreover, the route faces federal air-quality regulations enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency for dust.