Minnesota’s Department of Transportation (MnDOT) will soon release the final version of their 20-year State Highway Investment Plan. The plan will outline which projects will be prioritized by the state over the next two decades. Recently, completion of the Highway 14 expansion was removed from this priority list by MnDOT Commissioner Zelle and Governor Dayton.
U.S. Highway 14’s Rochester-to-Mankato project was started before I was old enough to drive. If not included in MnDOT's plan, it will become a seven-decade long uncompleted project. I worry it may not be completed until after I stop driving, or longer. This is the only section of the original plan that is still not completed. Dozens have died along this stretch of road and dozens more will in the future because of dangerous conditions created by the highway’s poor design. Wide lanes narrowing into two-lane sections, blind intersections and dangerous merging have made this stretch of road a death trap in even the best driving conditions. In order to complete the project and bring more safety and economic stability to our area, MnDOT must reconsider its decision to put off Highway 14 for the next generation.
Significant time and resources have already been invested in the widening of Highway 14. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was completed three years ago at taxpayer expense and will expire if no action is taken. Traffic along this corridor is predicted to continue climbing as population grows. Mankato and Rochester are in the top five fastest growing cities in Minnesota.
I’ve joined bipartisan elected officials across our area in calling for inclusion of this project in MnDOT’s strategic plans. From city council members to mayors to legislators to our Member of Congress, the message to Governor Dayton and his state agencies is loud and clear. The only thing left for them to do is act.
Rep. Duane Quam