U.S. Route 53, or U.S. Highway 53 (U.S. 53), is a north–south U.S. highway that runs for 404 miles (650 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 Twin Ports of Superior, Wisconsin, and Duluth, Minnesota. The entire route from Eau Claire to the city limits of Superior is a four lane divided highway. The highway's northern terminus is at the Fort Frances–International Falls International Bridge in International Falls, Minnesota, at the Canada–US border. Its southern terminus is in La Crosse, Wisconsin, at U.S. Highway 14.

U.S. Route 53 marker

U.S. Route 53

US 53 highlighted in red
Route information
Length404 mi[1] (650 km)
Existed1926[citation needed]–present
Major junctions
South end US 14 / US 61 / WIS 16 at La Crosse, WI
Major intersections
North end Highway 71 to Highway 11 at Fort Frances, ON
CountryUnited States
StatesWisconsin, Minnesota
CountiesWI: La Crosse, Trempealeau, Eau Claire, Chippewa, Barron, Washburn, Douglas
MN: St. Louis, Koochiching
Highway system
  • Minnesota Trunk Highway System
US 52US US 54
US 52MN MN 54

Route description



At the Start of Wisconsin Highway 53 in La Crosse, Onalaska, and Holmen.

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 c. 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 (Minong and Solon Springs) 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 three grade-separated interchanges (one at 28th Avenue (CTH-V) in Haugen, 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 in the town of Amnicon, 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.

In 1989, the entirety of US 53 in Wisconsin was designated the Peace Memorial Highway, commemorating citizens of Wisconsin who have worked to promote international peace.[4]



US 53 enters the state at the city of Duluth on the John Blatnik Bridge over the Saint Louis Bay. US 53 runs concurrently with I-535 for 2.8 miles (4.5 km) as it enters Minnesota. I-535/US 53 has an interchange with I-35 in Duluth, known locally as the "Can of Worms"; it features a pair of left exits from I-35, a stoplight and lane drops over the I-35 bridge.[5]

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

US 53 then runs concurrently with State Highway 194 (MN 194) for six miles (9.7 km), from Trinity Road in Duluth to Lindahl Road in the city of Hermantown. This four-lane stretch of US 53 and MN 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. US 53 has a junction with MN 33 at the unincorporated community of Independence. Continuing northbound, US 53 has an interchange with US 169 in Virginia. In between the US 169 and MN 135 interchanges is the Thomas Rukavina Memorial Bridge. This bridge is the tallest in the state and spans 4 lanes of freeway. Immediately north of Virginia, US 53 has an interchange with MN 169 in Wuori Township.

US 53 then proceeds northwest to International Falls, where it has a junction with US 71 and MN 11.

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


  • A portion of US 53 in Minnesota is officially designated the Voyageur Highway. The Voyageur Highway is a state designation that is also applied to various other state highways in Minnesota.
  • The portion of US 53 from the city limits of Virginia to MN 11 in International Falls was designated as Speaker Irvin N. Anderson Memorial Highway in 2009 in honor of former State House Speaker Irv Anderson.[6]
  • The 2008 Minnesota Legislature named US 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.[7][8]



U.S. Highway 53 was extended into Minnesota in 1934. When marked, it was paved from the Wisconsin border to its junction with U.S. 169 in Virginia, on a short segment between Britt and Idington, and from Cusson to the Canadian border.[9] The segment from Virginia to Britt was paved during that year,[10] and the remainder was paved in 1935.[11]

A bypass around Virginia was completed in 1964 and opened to traffic that November;[12] State Highway 135 was extended along the previous alignment through the city.[13]

The expressway section between Duluth and Virginia was constructed by 1970, except the portion between Four Corners and Independence.

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 famous 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.

A four-lane expressway from north of the city of Virginia to the south city limits of Cook was constructed beginning in 2009 as part of a long-range goal of providing a four-lane highway to Canada as part of the Falls-to-Falls Corridor. The first stage, from approximately County Road 307 to 0.25 miles south of County Road 652 (Goodell Road), was completed in 2009;[14] the second stage was completed in the fall of 2013.

Relocation between Eveleth and Virginia


On May 5, 2010, Cliffs Natural Resources provided notice to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) that U.S. Highway 53 easement rights across the United Taconite Mine, per a 1960 agreement, would be terminated to allow for expansion of the mine. United Taconite and MnDOT negotiated an agreement to move the roadway by 2017.[15]

There were three rerouting options proposed:[16]

The East route was selected for the project and construction began in November 2015,[17] with the realignment reaching completion in 2017. On September 15, the new roadway was opened, with a dedication of the bridge spanning the Rouchleau Pit. The bridge is the tallest in the state at 204 feet (62 m) in height.[18]

Falls-to-Falls Corridor


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 project hoped to spur economic development in northwestern Wisconsin and northeastern Minnesota by widening 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 convert 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 pair of multilane bridges over the Eau Claire River, goes mostly through Altoona and includes 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.[19] 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 an expressway as far north as the city of Cook, leaving approximately 73 miles (117 km) of the route to International Falls to be converted to expressway standards.

Major intersections

WisconsinLa CrosseLa Crosse0.000.00 
WIS 16 east (Cameron Street) / US 14 east / US 61 / Great River Road south / Alt. I-90 west
Cameron St. is a one-way street; southern terminus of southbound US 53; I-90 Alt. follows US 14/WI 16 (Cameron St.); road continues as US 14 east/US 61/GRR south (3rd Street south)
WIS 16 (Cass Street) / US 14 west / US 61 north / Great River Road / Alt. I-90 east – La Crescent
Cass St. is a one-way street; southern terminus of northbound US 53; I-90 Alt. follows US 14/WI 16 west (Cass St.); road continues north from US 14/US 61/GRR (4th Street)
WIS 35 south (George Street)
Southern end of WIS 35 overlap
I-90 west / WIS 35 north / Great River Road north – Minnesota, Onalaska
Northern end of WIS 35 overlap; southern end of I-90 overlap; I-90 exit 3
I-90 east / WIS 157 east – Madison, LaCrosse
South end of expressway; northern end of I-90 overlap; southern end of WIS 157 overlap; I-90 exit 4
  WIS 157 west / CTH-OS (Main Street)
Northern end of WIS 157 overlap
7  CTH-S (Sand Lake Road)
Holmen9  CTH-OT – Midway
   WIS 35 south / CTH-HD / Great River Road (Holmen Drive)
Southern end of WIS 35 overlap
13  CTH-MH (McHugh Road)
   WIS 35 north / CTH-HD / Great River Road – Holmen, Trempealeau
WIS 93 begins
North end of expressway; northern end of WIS 35 overlap; southern end of WIS 93 overlap
TrempealeauTown of Gale 
WIS 54 east – Melrose
Eastern end of WIS 54 overlap
WIS 54 west / WIS 93 north – Centerville
Western end of WIS 54 overlap; northern end of WIS 93 overlap
WIS 95 east – Blair, Hixton
Eastern end of WIS 95 overlap
Town of Preston 
WIS 95 west – Arcadia
Western end of WIS 95 overlap
WIS 121 west – Independence
Southern end of WIS 121 overlap
Pigeon Falls 
WIS 121 east – Northfield
Northern end of WIS 121 overlap
US 10 east / Alt. I-94 east – Fairchild, Neillsville
Eastern end of US 10 and Alternate I-94 overlap
Town of Sumner70110 
US 10 west – Mondovi
Western end of US 10 overlap
Eau ClaireEau Claire8613884  I-94 – Madison, St. PaulCloverleaf interchange; south end of freeway; 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
Altoona8914387  US 12 (Clairemont Avenue) – Fairchild, Eau ClaireWisconsin's first SPUI[3]
89River Prairie Drive
Eau Claire90   WIS 312 / CTH-Q (North Crossing)
ChippewaLake Hallie92Melby Street
Bus. US 53 / WIS 124 / CTH-OO / Alt. US 53 – Chippewa Falls, Lake Hallie
WIS 29 / Alt. I-94 west – Menomonie, Green Bay
Signed as exits 95A (east) and 95B (west), western end of Alternate I-94 overlap
Chippewa Falls96 
Bus. WIS 29 / CTH-X / Alt. US 53 – Menomonie, Chippewa Falls
Town of Tilden99  CTH-S – Chippewa Falls, Jim Falls
102  CTH-B – Tilden
Bloomer110  WIS 40 – Bloomer, Colfax
Town of Bloomer112  WIS 64 – Cornell, New Richmond
New Auburn118  CTH-M – New Auburn
BarronTown of Chetek126  CTH-I – Chetek
Cameron137220135  US 8 – Barron, Cameron
Rice Lake140  CTH-O – Rice Lake
143  WIS 48 – Rice Lake, Cumberland
Oak Grove26th AvenueAt-grade intersection; north end of freeway
150  CTH-V (28th Avenue) – HaugenInterchange
WashburnTown of Sarona 
WIS 253 north – Spooner
Town of Spooner165  WIS 70 – Spooner, Stone LakeInterchange
US 63 south – Spooner, Shell Lake
Interchange; southern end of US 63 overlap
Town of Trego183295 
US 63 north – Hayward, Ashland
Northern end of US 63 overlap
Bus. US 53 north
  WIS 77 – Minong, Danbury
Bus. US 53 south
DouglasSolon Springs 
Bus. US 53 north
Bus. US 53 south
Town of Amnicon226364222 
US 2 east – Ashland
Interchange; southern end of US 2 overlap; no southbound entrance
CTH-C to US 53 south – Spooner, Eau Claire
Provides U-turn to US 53 south for travelers coming from US 2 west
Town of Parkland227 
WIS 13 south / CTH-Z / LSCT east – Port Wing, Bayfield
US 2 / LSCT west – Duluth
Northern end of US 2 overlap; southern end of US 2 Truck
Truck US 2 west
Northern end of US 2 Truck overlap
I-535 begins / WIS 35 south – Duluth
South end of freeway; southern end of I-535 overlap
St. Louis Bay240
John A. Blatnik Bridge
MinnesotaSt. LouisDuluth0.536–
Garfield Avenue
  I-35 / I-535 ends / LSCT – St. Paul, Minneapolis
Northern end of I-535 overlap
W. Superior Street / 21st Avenue N.
6th StreetAt-grade intersection; north end of freeway
MN 194 east (Central Entrance)
Southern end of MN 194 overlap
MN 194 west to US 2 – Grand Rapids
Northern end of MN 194 overlap
New Independence Township24.13438.840 
MN 33 south – Cloquet
Fayal Township55.87189.916 
MN 37 west – Hibbing
Interchange; southern end of MN 37 overlap
MN 37 east – Gilbert
Interchange; northern end of MN 37 overlap
MN 135 north – Gilbert
64.144103.2302nd Avenue WestFormer MN 135 / US 53 Bus.
US 169 south – Mountain Iron, Hibbing, Grand Rapids
66.753107.429  CSAH 102 (9th Street North)Former MN 135
Wuori Township68.648110.478  CSAH 103 – VirginiaFormer US 53 Bus.
MN 169 north – Tower, Ely
Sherman Corner87.140140.238 
  MN 1 east / CSAH 22 – Tower, Ely
Southern end of MN 1 overlap
Field Township94.168151.549 
  MN 1 west / CSAH 115 – Effie, Northome
Northern end of MN 1 overlap
MN 73 south – Chisholm, Hibbing
MN 217 west – Littlefork
Rainy Lake160.218257.846  CSAH 332Formerly MN 332
International Falls163.968263.881 
MN 11 west (3rd Avenue)
Western end of MN 11 overlap
MN 11 east (4th Street) – Island View
Eastern end of MN 11 overlap
US 71 south (3rd Street) – Bemidji
Southern end of US 71 overlap
Canada–United States borderRainy River164.361264.513Fort Frances–International Falls International Bridge[a]
  Highway 71 north – Fort FrancesNorthern end of US 71 overlap; continuation into Canada
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
  1. ^ Canada-bound drivers pay US$7 to cross bridge. No toll for US-bound drivers.

See also



  1. ^ a b "U.S. Route Number Database". Transportation.org. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  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. ^ Wisconsin Department of Transportation. "Commemorative Highways & Bridges". Retrieved February 10, 2022.
  5. ^ Google (June 8, 2009). "Overview Map and Aerial Photo of the Can of Worms" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved June 8, 2009.
  6. ^ Jon Ellis (2009-04-16). "Pawlenty approves Irv Anderson Memorial Highway". FOX 21 Online. Archived from the original on July 11, 2011. Retrieved 2010-07-20.
  7. ^ "2021 Minnesota Statutes ch. 810.14". Office of the Revisor of Statutes. Retrieved February 10, 2022.
  8. ^ "Duluth to dedicate Mondale Drive". Duluth News Tribune. June 11, 2008. Retrieved February 10, 2022.
  9. ^ 1934 Map of Trunk Highway System, State of Minnesota (Map). Cartography by McGill-Warner Co. Minnesota Highway Department. May 1, 1934. § L-3 to O-10. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  10. ^ 1935 Map of Trunk Highway System, State of Minnesota (Map). Cartography by McGill-Warner Co. Minnesota Highway Department. April 1, 1935. § L-3 to O-10. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  11. ^ 1936 Map of Trunk Highway System, State of Minnesota (Map). Cartography by McGill-Warner Co. Minnesota Highway Department. April 1, 1936. § L-3 to O-10. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  12. ^ Schumann, Lois; Biondich, Mary (December 1964). Buxton, Tom (ed.). "News from Central Offices and Districts - Maintenance Area 1-B". Minnesota Highways. Vol. 14, no. 2. Minnesota Department of Highways. p. 13. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  13. ^ Construction Project Log Record, Control Section 6918 (PDF), Minnesota Highway Department, retrieved September 14, 2018
  14. ^ "U.S. Highway 53 from Virginia to Cook – Four-lane expansion improvement project". Minnesota Department of Transportation. 2009. Archived from the original on November 2, 2011. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  15. ^ "U.S. Highway 53 Relocation between Eveleth and Virginia". Minnesota Department of Transportation. May 5, 2010. Archived from the original on December 22, 2017. Retrieved August 3, 2011.
  16. ^ "Highway 53 Realignment Study - United Taconite" (PDF). Short Elliot Hendrickson Inc. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 27, 2015 – via Minnesota Department of Transportation.
  17. ^ "MnDOT to relocate highway to make room for now-idled iron mine". St. Paul Pioneer Press. November 3, 2015. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  18. ^ Slater, Brady (September 16, 2017). "Tallest bridge in Minnesota is dedicated. You can drive over it really soon". St. Paul Pioneer Press. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  19. ^ "U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta Announces $3.8 for Minnesota Transportation Projects". U.S. Department of Transportation. May 4, 2004. Retrieved September 18, 2010.
  20. ^ Minnesota Department of Transportation. "Statewide Trunk Logpoint Listing" (PDF). St. Paul: Minnesota Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 22, 2010.
  21. ^ Wisconsin Department of Transportation. "Exit numbers on US 53". Retrieved 2007-12-12.
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