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Proposed re-route of Iron Range highway draws fire

VIRGINIA, Minn. (AP) — A stretch of Iron Range highway between Eveleth and Virginia must be moved to make way for a mine expansion. But one proposed route would bypass both cities, and that's raised the ire of many business owners.

Highway 53 runs past the United Taconite plant. Its owner wants to mine underneath the highway and has the legal right to do it under a commitment the state made in 1960 to move the highway when the company was ready.

Minnesota Public Radio reports the difficulty for the Minnesota Department of Transportation is there aren't many viable places to put the road. The region is pockmarked by operating mines and abandoned pits.

Virginia prefers a more expensive option that would require building a bridge over a deep abandoned mine pit.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.