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.
Federal funding for the project in northern Minnesota was $940k in 2003
and $600k in 2004
At present, with the exception of 3.5 miles 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 of the route as-yet incomplete. A section between Virginia and Cook
is currently under construction.
With the exception of a 5-mile stretch in urban Superior
, the entire route within Wisconsin is completed to freeway
or expressway standards. The Superior section is, however, multi-lane divided highway. On the south end of the corridor, the connection to Interstate Highway 94
is a 7.5 mile 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
. The U.S. 53
/ U.S. 12
single point urban interchange became Wisconsin's first and won multiple awards
in 2005 and 2006. This section of the bypass was opened mid-morning on August 21st, 2006.