Gov. Mark Dayton signed the transportation bill into law on Tuesday evening. While there is an ongoing controversy over some of the pieces of legislation, this controversy does not include the transportation bill.
The bill appropriates $25 million a year in cash for Corridors of Commerce and authorizes $300 million in bonding over four years ($50 million a year for two years and $100 million a year for two years). We are hopeful that this funding will help make progress on expanding Highway 14. It does not, however, provide enough funding to complete either section of the project.
It’s important to note that the Corridors of Commerce money gets divided between the metro area and Greater Minnesota. Since the estimated cost of the New Ulm to Nicollet portion of Highway 14 ranges from $69 million to $117 million and the estimated cost of the Owatonna to Dodge Center portion ranges from $152 million to $193 million, this bill does not provide enough funding to complete either section.
The bill also changes project selection for Corridors of Commerce, adding “regional balance” to MnDOT’s list of considerations, but also limiting MnDOT’s discretion. The U.S. Highway 14 Partnership lobbied to include the regional balance requirement to ensure that Highway 14 continues to have eligibility for this program.