Governor Dayton, MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle, Representative John Petersburg, Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz and Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede joined Highway 14 supporters to dedicate Phase I of the expansion of Highway 14 from Owatonna to Dodge Center on Friday afternoon, October 9, 2015.
Mayor Tom Kuntz led the event. First, he introduced Governor Dayton.
Governor Dayton stressed the importance of Corridors of Commerce, and that U.S. Highway 14 should be expanded even farther than New Ulm and Rochester in both directions. Highway 14 moves commerce and builds jobs. He stressed the need to dedicate revenues to the Corridors of Commerce program. “This opening is cause for significant celebration, but so much more needs to be done.”
Then MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle spoke: “This is an important day—the first phase of what we expect and hope will happen with Highway 14. The expansion is important not just for traffic but also for access to business and safety. We have to do what we can do, and we need to follow up on Corridors of Commerce.”
He stressed the important role roads play in the State, saying, “This expansion is a foundation for what we can do to support quality of life and economic prosperity.”
He called for dedicated funds for Corridors of Commerce and highway funding in general, recognizing that there is a bipartisan recognition of the size of the need. He then warned that MnDOT anticipates a 45% cutback in construction in 2018 without new revenues.
Rep. John Petersburg spoke about keeping transportation a priority at the Capitol. He also pointed out that Highway 14 is the only major corridor that doesn’t run through Minneapolis or St. Paul.
Rochester Mayor Ardelle Brede pointed out that Rochester is anticipating 35,000 to 40,000 new jobs for the Destination Medical Center, and that people moving to surrounding communities for those jobs will need a safe commute from the west. A commute on Highway 14 runs into the sun both directions in the morning and in the evening.
Jim Wendorf from Viracon spoke about the importance of Highway 14 both for the trucks used in his business and for the safety of his employees’ commute. “Transportation is not a Democrat or Republican issue. It affects us all.”