I wanted to share with you the column I sent to our local papers about the progress on Highway 14. Hope you have a great weekend.
Highway 14 expansion inches ahead
Back in May, I was one of a handful of Republicans to support the Transportation Omnibus bill. My belief is that transportation is a key function of government, and government has a responsibility to maintain our roads and bridges in the interest of safety and to allow businesses to transport goods from point A to point B.
Part of the reason I supported the Transportation bill was the inclusion of trunk highway bonds that were likely to fund much-needed expansions along Highway 14. One of those projects was a shovel-ready segment of Highway 14 just east of Owatonna.
These trunk highway bonds were expected to provide about $300 million in funding to help repair and expand roads around the state. Last week, I was pleased to learn that MnDOT and Governor Dayton included three different Highway 14 projects in their "Corridors of Commerce" plan, which will use proceeds from those trunk highway bonds to fund the expansion of roads around the state to increase safety and decrease bottlenecks of traffic and allow commerce to move more freely in Southern Minnesota.
The first project, the expansion east of Owatonna to the railroad, is expected to break ground in 2014. The two additional projects will expand the stretch going Northwest from North Mankato, and add a four-lane bypass when Highway 14 reaches Nicollet. They are expected to break ground sometime in 2015.
While I welcome this good news, there remains work to be done on Highway 14. There are still many miles that need expanding to allow for greater traffic flow and increase safety for those who travel Highway 14 each and every day.
MnDOT still has yet to release their 20 year plan. As of the last draft, Highway 14 was not included, meaning Highway 14 cannot receive federal funding. It's critical that Highway 14 remain in the discussion, and that we finish the necessary job of expanding Highway 14 for Southern Minnesota.
I will continue working with all stakeholders to ensure we find a way to fully expand Highway 14. It's critical for the future economic vitality of the region, and the safety the people who live and travel the highway each and every day.