U.S. Route 53

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U.S. Route 53 marker

U.S. Route 53
U.S. 53 highlighted in red
Route information
Length: 403 mi[1] (649 km)
Existed: 1926[1] – present
Major junctions
South end: US 14 / US 61 / WIS 16
at La Crosse, WI

I-90 at La Crosse, WI
I-94 at Eau Claire, WI
US 12 at Altoona, WI
WIS 29 at Lake Hallie, WI
US 63 at Spooner, WI
US 2 at Superior, WI
I-35 / I-535 at Duluth, MN
MN 33 at Independence, MN
US 169 / MN 169 at Virginia, MN

US 71 / MN 11 at Int'l. Falls, MN
North end: Highway 71 to Highway 11 / TCH
at Fort Frances, ON
States: Wisconsin, Minnesota
Counties: WI: La Crosse, Trempealeau, Eau Claire, Chippewa, Barron, Washburn, Douglas
MN: St. Louis, Koochiching
Highway system
  • Minnesota Trunk Highways
WIS 52 WI WIS 53
US 52 MN MN 54

U.S. Route 53, or U.S. Highway 53 (U.S. 53), is a north–south U.S. highway that runs for 403 miles (649 km) from La Crosse, Wisconsin to International Falls, Minnesota. It is the primary north–south route in northwestern Wisconsin, serving as a vital link between I-94 at Eau Claire, Wisconsin and the city of Duluth, Minnesota. The entire route from Eau Claire to the city limits of Superior, Wisconsin is a four lane divided highway. The highway's northern terminus is at the Fort Frances-International Falls Bridge in International Falls, Minnesota, at the Canada–US border. Its southern terminus is in La Crosse, Wisconsin, at U.S. Highway 14.

Route description[edit]


U.S. Highway 53 begins at its southern terminus with a junction at U.S. 14, U.S. 61, and Wisconsin Highway 16 in downtown La Crosse. From there, U.S. 53 crosses Interstate 90 and becomes a freeway bypass of Onalaska and Holmen before proceeding north to Eau Claire as a two-lane roadway. The interchange with Interstate 94 at Eau Claire begins a freeway / expressway stretch for U.S. 53 north to the city limits of Superior. The recently built (circa 2006) freeway in Eau Claire, bypasses most of the city, alleviating congestion on the original route (signed now as both "Business U.S. 53" and Hastings Way.) Business U.S. 53 / Hastings Way is a mix of grade-separated interchanges and at-grade intersections, and is routed through Eau Claire, passing within about one mile (1.6 km) of downtown Eau Claire. Other smaller towns between Eau Claire and Superior (Solon Springs and Minong) were bypassed in a similar manner.

Wisconsin's first single-point urban interchange is found along the U.S. 53 bypass of Eau Claire, at its interchange with U.S. 12, in Altoona.[2] This interchange received the 2005 Outstanding Highway Construction award from the Bureau of Project Development.[3]

U.S. 53 continues as a freeway north of Eau Claire past Chippewa Falls to Rice Lake, where it then becomes an expressway with only two grade-separated interchanges (one at Wisconsin Highway 70 near Spooner and one at Wisconsin Highway 13, immediately southeast of Superior). U.S. 53 has a partial grade-separated interchange with U.S. 2 at South Range, but traffic turning from U.S. 2 westbound onto U.S. 53 southbound must take a U-turn at an at-grade crossover past the interchange.

After passing through the city of Superior as a four-lane city surface street (East Second Street) for a 5-mile (8.0 km) stretch, U.S. 53 then approaches the Saint Louis Bay. U.S. 53 then runs together with Interstate 535 and crosses the bay via the John Blatnik Bridge into Minnesota.


U.S. Highway 53 enters the state at the city of Duluth on the John Blatnik Bridge over the Saint Louis Bay. U.S. 53 is concurrent with I-535 for 2.8 miles (4.5 km) as it enters Minnesota.

U.S. 53 / I-535 has an interchange with I-35 in Duluth, known locally as the "Can of Worms"; and features a pair of left exits from I-35, a stoplight, and lane drops over the I-35 bridge.[4]

After its junction with I-35, U.S. 53 continues through Duluth on the recently upgraded Piedmont Avenue and Trinity Road for 3.5 miles (5.6 km).

U.S. 53 is then concurrent with State Highway 194 for six miles (10 km), from Trinity Road in Duluth to Lindahl Road in the city of Hermantown. This four-lane stretch of Highways 53 and 194 are also known as the Miller Trunk Highway in the cities of Duluth and Hermantown.

From Hermantown, the route proceeds north to the city of Virginia. The portion of the route from Duluth to Virginia is a four-lane expressway. U.S. 53 has a junction with State Highway 33 at the unincorporated community of Independence. Continuing northbound, U.S. 53 has an interchange with U.S. 169 in Virginia. Immediately north of Virginia, U.S. 53 has an interchange with State Highway 169 in Wuori Township.

U.S. 53 then proceeds northwest to International Falls, where it has a junction with U.S. 71 and State Highway 11.

U.S. Highway 53 in Minnesota passes through Saint Louis and Koochiching counties.

Legally, the Minnesota section of U.S. 53 is defined as unmarked legislative routes 106, 11, and 315 in Minnesota Statutes §§ 161.115(37), (246), and 161.114(2). U.S. 53 is not marked with these legislative numbers along the actual highway.


  • A portion of Highway 53 in Minnesota is officially designated the Voyageurs Highway. The Voyageurs Highway is a state designation that is also applied to various other state highways in Minnesota.
  • The 2008 Minnesota Legislature named Highway 53 between Superior Street and Central Entrance in the city of Duluth as Walter F. Mondale Drive. On June 12, 2008, this section of highway (Piedmont Avenue and Trinity Road) was dedicated as Walter F. Mondale Drive in honor of the former Vice President's public service.


U.S. Highway 53 in Minnesota was completely paved by 1940.

The expressway section between Duluth and Virginia was constructed by 1970, except just north of Duluth. This section and a U.S. 53 bypass around Virginia were completed during the 1970s.

A new four-lane divided highway section of U.S. 53 in Duluth was constructed in 2004. This section of the route is known locally as Piedmont Avenue. Previously, from 1934 to 2004, this same section of U.S. 53 was a narrow two-lane roadway that had proceeded up the hill to a seven-legged intersection that had included Duluth's Skyline Parkway. Locally, this now-defunct infamous intersection, had been known for 70 years by the name "Seven Corners".

A new U.S. Highway 53 interchange with State Highway 169 in Wuori Township was built in 2006.


Four-lane expansion project from Virginia to Cook[edit]

A section of U.S. 53, from north of the city of Virginia to the south city limits of Cook, is under construction. This is part of a long range goal of providing a four-lane highway to Canada as part of the Falls-to-Falls Corridor. The new four-lane highway will be built in two stages with a total length of approximately 20 miles. The first stage from approximately County Road 307 to 0.25 miles south of County Road 652 (Goodell Road) was completed in 2009. Bids for the second stage will be taken late fall of 2011 with construction scheduled to begin the winter of 2012. It is anticipated that the construction project will be completed in the fall of 2013.[5]

Relocation of U.S. 53 between Eveleth and Virginia[edit]

The proposed project is to abandon U.S. Highway 53 in the area of the United Taconite mine expansion and relocate the highway nearby. The affected area is about one mile in length; located in Saint Louis County between the cities of Eveleth and Virginia.

On May 5, 2010, Cliffs Natural Resources provided notice to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) that U.S. Highway 53 easement rights across the United Taconite Mine, per a 1960 agreement, would be terminated. United Taconite and Mn/DOT are in negotiations to provide seven years for the relocation of Highway 53 between Eveleth and Virginia. Based on current project development requirements, Mn/DOT believes seven years is an appropriate time frame for review, design, and construction of a highway project.[6]

There are three rerouting options being proposed for Highway 53:

A route will be selected by 2013; construction will begin in 2015; and the project will be completed by 2017.

Falls-to-Falls Corridor[edit]

The Falls-to-Falls Corridor (officially The Falls-to-Falls Corridor—United States Route 53 from International Falls on the Minnesota/Canada border to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin) is, by the United States federal government, a recognized trade corridor.

In the 1990s, the federal government listed the corridor as a priority for development. The primary development planned is infrastructure-related, specifically, a highway improvement project designed to spur economic development in northwestern Wisconsin and northeastern Minnesota by upgrading U.S. Highway 53 to full expressway standards from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin to International Falls, Minnesota. Interstate Highway 535 forms the only section of the route that is part of the Interstate Highway System.


With the exception of a 5-mile (8.0 km) stretch as a four-lane city surface street (East Second Street) in the city of Superior, the entire route within Wisconsin is completed to freeway or expressway standards. On the south end of the corridor, the connection to Interstate Highway 94 is a 7.5-mile (12.1 km) stretch through the Eau Claire-Chippewa Falls conurbation. After years of legal and political wrangling, the decision was made in the late 1990s to bypass the current route, rather than to upgrade the present highway to freeway standards. The northern half of this bypass, as far south as WIS 312 was opened to traffic in mid-2005. The southern half of the bypass, which includes a new pair of multilane bridges over the Eau Claire River, goes mostly through Altoona and includes new interchanges with WIS 312, U.S. Highway 12 and WIS 93. This project won multiple awards in 2005 and 2006.[3] This section of the bypass was opened mid-morning on August 21, 2006.


Federal funding for the project in northern Minnesota was $940,000 in 2003 and nearly $600,000 in 2004.[7] At present, with the exception of 3.5 miles (5.6 km) stretch within the city of Duluth (Piedmont Avenue and Trinity Road), the route is completed as expressway as far north as the north side of the city of Virginia, leaving approximately 90 miles (140 km) of the route as-yet incomplete. A section between Virginia and Cook was recently turned into a 4-lane highway.

Major intersections[edit]

State County Location mi[8] km Exit[9] Destinations Notes
Wisconsin La Crosse La Crosse 0.00 0.00 US 14 west / US 61 south / WIS 16 (Cass Street)
US 14 east (3rd Street South) / US 61 south / Great River Road south
Southern terminus of US 53
WIS 35 south (George Street) Southern end of WIS 35 overlap
3 I-90 west / WIS 35 north / Great River Road north – Rochester Northern end of WIS 35 overlap; western end of I-90 overlap
Onalaska 4 I-90 east / WIS 157 east – Madison Eastern end of I-90 overlap; southern end of WIS 157 overlap
6 WIS 157 west / CTH-OS (Main Street) Northern end of WIS 157 overlap
7 CTH-S (Sand Lake Road)
Holmen 9 CTH-OT – Midway
11 WIS 35 south / CTH-HD / Great River Road (Holmen Drive) Southern end of WIS 35 overlap
13 CTH-MH (McHugh Road)
15 WIS 35 north / CTH-HD / Great River Road – Holmen, Trempealeau
WIS 93 begins
Northern end of WIS 35 overlap; southern end of WIS 93 overlap
Trempealeau Town of Gale WIS 54 east – Melrose Eastern end of WIS 54 overlap
Galesville WIS 54 west / WIS 93 north – Centerville Western end of WIS 54 overlap; northern end of WIS 93 overlap
Blair WIS 95 east – Blair, Hixton Eastern end of WIS 95 overlap
Town of Preston WIS 95 west – Arcadia Western end of WIS 95 overlap
Whitehall WIS 121 west – Independence Southern end of WIS 121 overlap
Pigeon Falls WIS 121 east – Northfield Northern end of WIS 121 overlap
Osseo US 10 east – Fairchild, Neillsville Eastern end of US 10 overlap
Town of Sumner US 10 west – Mondovi Western end of US 10 overlap
Eau Claire Eau Claire 84 I-94 – Madison, St. Paul Southbound exits signed as 84A (east) and 84B (west); no exit numbers northbound
85 CTH-AA / Golf Road
Bus. US 53 (Hastings Way) / WIS 93 south – La Crosse
US 53 Business only signed northbound
Altoona 87 US 12 (Clairemont Avenue) – Fairchild, Eau Claire Wisconsin's first SPUI[3]
89 River Prairie Drive
Eau Claire 90 WIS 312 / CTH-Q (North Crossing)
Chippewa Lake Hallie 92 Melby Street
Bus. US 53 / WIS 124 / CTH-OO – Chippewa Falls, Lake Hallie
95 WIS 29 – Menomonie, Green Bay Signed as exits 95A (east) and 95B (west)
Chippewa Falls 96
Bus. WIS 29 / CTH-X – Menomonie, Chippewa Falls
Town of Tilden 99 CTH-S – Chippewa Falls, Jim Falls
102 CTH-B – Tilden
Bloomer 110 WIS 40 – Bloomer, Colfax
Town of Bloomer 112 WIS 64 – Cornell, New Richmond
New Auburn 118 CTH-M – New Auburn
Barron Town of Chetek 126 CTH-I – Chetek
Cameron 135 US 8 – Barron, Cameron
Rice Lake 140 CTH-O – Rice Lake
143 WIS 48 – Rice Lake, Cumberland
Haugen 150 CTH-V – Haugen
Washburn Town of Sarona WIS 253 north – Spooner
Town of Spooner 165 WIS 70 – Spooner, Stone Lake
168 US 63 south – Spooner, Shell Lake Southern end of US 63 overlap
Town of Trego US 63 north – Hayward, Ashland Northern end of US 63 overlap
Minong WIS 77 – Minong, Danbury
Douglas Town of Amnicon US 2 east – Ashland Eastern end of US 2 overlap
Town of Parkland WIS 13 south / CTH-Z / LSCT east – Port Wing, Bayfield
Superior US 2 / LSCT west – Duluth Western end of US 2 overlap
I-535 begins / WIS 35 south – Duluth Southern end of I-535 overlap
St. Louis Bay

John A. Blatnik Bridge
Minnesota St. Louis Duluth 0.536–
Garfield Avenue
I-35 / I-535 ends / LSCT – St. Paul, Minneapolis Northern end of I-535 overlap
MN 194 east Eastern end of MN 194 overlap
Hermantown 11.526 18.549 MN 194 west Western end of MN 194 overlap
New Independence Township 24.134 38.840 MN 33 south – Cloquet
Fayal Township 55.871 89.916 MN 37 west – Hibbing Interchange, southern end of MN 37 overlap
Eveleth 60.028–
MN 37 east – Gilbert Interchange, northern end of MN 37 overlap
Virginia 63.054–
MN 135 north – Gilbert Interchange
US 169 south – Mountain Iron, Hibbing, Grand Rapids Interchange
Wuori Township 70.387–
MN 169 north – Tower, Ely Interchange
Sherman Corner 87.140 140.238 MN 1 east – Tower, Ely Southern end of MN 1 overlap
Field Township 94.168 151.549 MN 1 west – Effie, Northome Northern end of MN 1 overlap
101.030 162.592 MN 73 south – Chisholm, Hibbing
Koochiching Ray 146.275 235.407 MN 217 west – Littlefork
International Falls 163.968 263.881 MN 11 west (3rd Avenue) Western end of MN 11 overlap
164.040 263.997 MN 11 east (4th Street) – Island View Eastern end of MN 11 overlap
164.105 264.101 US 71 south (3rd Street) – Bemidji Southern end of US 71 overlap
164.361 264.513 Highway 71 north – Fort Frances Northern end of US 71 overlap; Northern terminus of US 53 and US 71; Southern terminus of ON 71
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Droz, Robert V. U.S. Highways : From US 1 to (US 830). URL accessed 02:55, 4 July 2006 (UTC).
  2. ^ Chris Bessert. Wisconsin Highways - Highway 53 2006, URL accessed 2006 December 31
  3. ^ a b c "US 53 project". Wisconsin Department of Transportation. October 3, 2006. Archived from the original on October 7, 2006. 
  4. ^ Google (June 8, 2009). "overview map and aerial photo of the Can of Worms" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved June 8, 2009. 
  5. ^ "U.S. Highway 53 from Virginia to Cook – Four-lane expansion improvement project". Minnesota Department of Transportation. 2009. Retrieved August 3, 2011. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Highway 53 Relocation between Eveleth and Virginia". Minnesota Department of Transportation. May 5, 2010. Retrieved August 3, 2011. 
  7. ^ "U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta Announces $3.8 for Minnesota Transportation Projects". U.S. Department of Transportation. May 4, 2004. Retrieved September 18, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Trunk Highway Log Point Listing — Construction District 1" (PDF). Minnesota Department of Transportation. August 20, 2010. Retrieved October 22, 2010. 
  9. ^ Wisconsin Department of Transportation. "Exit numbers on US 53". Retrieved 2007-12-12. 

External links[edit]

Route map: Google

KML is from Wikidata