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Highway 53 Utilities Relocation

Highway 53 Utilities Relocation


Highway 53 in northern Minnesota ran straight through an iron ore mine. Per a 1960 agreement, the State had to move it so a nearby mine could exercise its right to continue operations. Included in the road and bridge relocation were several City of Virginia and Virginia Public Utilities, including sanitary sewer, water, electric and natural gas.


A number of stakeholders worked with mining interests to reroute a major local highway, public utilities and a trail under a very aggressive timeline. SEH provided civil, structural, wastewater and water engineering. As a result of the entire team's collaboration, the mining operation critical to the area would continue operating on its property.

The total highway relocation was approximately three miles long, and included a bridge overpass as well as another bridge that spans approximately 1,200 feet across the Rouchleau mine pit. The bridge across the pit is over 200 feet above the current water level in the pit and is one of the highest bridges in Minnesota. The new and improved municipal utilities span the length of the bridge to provide continued sanitary sewer and water service to areas located east of the mine, and include a new electrical power substation and a complete redesign and construction for natural gas service.

The Highway 53 Utilities Relocation project makes a significant contribution to the engineering industry through the introduction of a number of unique and innovative design solutions. These solutions include the longest HDPE watermain used on a bridge, a unique solution for pipe support and secondary containment for the sanitary sewer, and the introduction and resulting approval of a higher strength HDPE pipe material.


  • 2017 Special Recognition Award | City Engineers Association of Minnesota (CEAM)
  • Award of Merit, Highways/Bridges | ENR Midwest 2018 Best Projects Awards (submitted by Kiewit Infrastructure Co.)
  • Best Project, Safety Awards | ENR Midwest 2018 Best Projects Awards (submitted by Kiewit Infrastructure Co.)

Highway 53 Utilities Relocation

Virginia, Minnesota

City of Virginia


  • 200 ft. tall bridge
  • Longest HDPE watermain on a bridge
  • Pre-fab water booster station
  • 10 million pounds of steel beams
  • 800,000 pounds of rebar
  • Paved biking trail


  • Civil engineering
  • Structural engineering
  • Wastewater engineering
  • Water engineering