Miles of Highway 169 now memorialize former Iron Range senator

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has officially signed a bill renaming part of Highway 169 in honor of a longtime Iron Range lawmaker.

The approximately 40-mile stretch of the highway between the City of Marble and Mountain Iron will now be known as the David J. Tomassoni Memorial Cross Range Expressway, following a bill signing early Thursday morning.

During the signing, Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan were joined by members of the Tomassoni family.

“Senator David Tomassoni exemplified the spirit of the Iron Range,” Walz said. “His humble nature and devotion to improving his community has had an enduring impact. When we lost Senator Tomassoni, we lost a dedicated legislator, a champion for the Range, and a powerful advocate for people with ALS. Yet, his legacy lives on. I am honored to dedicate this stretch of highway across the Iron Range to Senator Tomassoni.”

Tomassoni, who served in both chambers of the Minnesota Legislature from 1993-2022, died due to complications from ALS – also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease – which affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

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Following his diagnosis, Walz signed a $25 million bill into law that Tomassoni wrote to go toward funding ALS research.

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As previously reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, Tomassoni died in August 2022, a little more than one year after revealing his battle with ALS and announcing his intention to retire at the end of 2021.

Tomassoni, of Chisholm, was one of two state senators who left the Minnesota DFL Caucus to form a new Independent Caucus, in an effort to become more bipartisan and moderate. He was joined by Tom Bakk of Cook.

RELATED: Longtime Minnesota senators quit DFL caucus to form Independent Caucus