ST. PAUL – A bill has been enacted which provides $105 million to make Highway 23 a continuous four-lane road between St. Cloud and Willmar, closing two gaps between the cities.
The Corridors of Commerce project initially was approved during the 2018 session and was to be financed by Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources bonds. Construction has been delayed as a result of bill language issues the new legislation (H.F. 80) rectifies by sourcing traditional general obligation bonds.
First-term Rep. Lisa Demuth-R, Cold Spring, was not yet a member of the House when the 2018 legislation was approved, but said she was pleased to be part of putting forward a solution this year.
“Highway 23 is such an important roadway for not only the citizens who live here, but also for freight haulers, people traveling through the area for recreational purposes and others,” Demuth said. “These bottlenecks on 23 have caused headaches for travelers and pose serious safety threats. I am happy we were able to move this bill forward and make this technical fix so we can finally start moving dirt on this project.”
The Minnesota Department of Transportation indicates all but 15 of the 53 miles Highway 23 stretches between St. Cloud and Willmar have been constructed as a four lanes. The two exceptions are where the road shrinks to two lanes between New London and Paynesville, and between Paynesville and Richmond.
The House and Senate both approved the new language Monday and Gov. Tim Walz enacted it Tuesday.