Corridors of Commerce is top legislative priority

Partnership: Funding for Corridors of Commerce is top legislative priority
Beussman, Gray re-elected as president and VP at annual meeting

With transportation quickly becoming a key focus of the legislative session, the U.S. Highway 14 Partnership has named ongoing funding for the Corridors of Commerce program as its top priority for 2015.

The U.S. Highway 14 Partnership is an advocacy organization consisting of cities, counties, townships, businesses and organizations that support the expansion of Highway 14 between Rochester and New Ulm. On Jan. 9, more than 50 people representing members of the organization gathered in Owatonna for its annual meeting, where they discussed the organization’s goals and priorities for the upcoming year.

As transportation is already emerging as a hot-button topic this session, the Partnership emphasized that funding for the Corridors of Commerce program must be a part of the discussion and included in any transportation plan. The Partnership is seeking $200 million a year for two years for the Corridors of Commerce program, which includes cash appropriation for project readiness expenses such as engineering, environmental and right-of-way acquisition costs, as well as bonding funds for the “shovel ready” section of the Highway 14 project.

“There’s no question that our communities need improved highway access to grow and thrive,” said New Ulm Mayor Bob Beussman, who was re-elected at the meeting to serve as the Partnership’s president for a second term. “The Corridors of Commerce program plays a crucial role not only in the Highway 14 expansion project, but in improving transportation throughout the state. We strongly urge legislators to show their commitment to improving the state’s transportation system by supporting funding for the Corridors of Commerce program.”

The Partnership has already garnered support from several legislators. Newly elected Rep. Jack Considine (DFL-Mankato) attended the meeting, where he spoke of the strategic importance of funding highways to facilitate business growth. Rep. Brian Daniels (R-Faribault), who was also elected in November, was unable to attend the meeting, but expressed his support for the Partnership.

Sen. Vicki Jensen (DFL-Owatonna) and Rep. John Petersburg (R-Waseca) are expected to introduce legislation to fund for the Corridors of Commerce program. Other legislators, including Rep. Clark Johnson (DFL-North Mankato), have said they would be in favor of the legislation. The Partnership plans to continue to advocate for additional legislative support as the session continues.

Beussman stressed that members must remain unified and steadfast in support of the Partnership’s goals in order be continue to be successful at the Legislature.

“The Highway 14 Partnership has proven to be an effective force and we’re excited about the positive action that has been taken on our project in the last couple of years, but there is still more work to be done,” he said.

Dodge County Commissioner Steve Gray, who was re-elected as vice president of the Partnership for the second year at the meeting, also noted the symbolism of having the Partnership’s president and vice president represent communities on opposite ends of the Highway 14 project. “From New Ulm to Rochester, all of us on the entire stretch of Highway 14 must continue to work together and remain united in our efforts until the project is completed.”

Contact: Carolyn Jackson

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