From a Highway 14 perspective, the past year has been both tragic and triumphant. This week marked the one-year anniversary of a day many of us will never forget. Two fatal accidents took place within 24 hours on the two-lane stretch of Highway 14 between Nicollet and New Ulm, with a third fatal accident on nearby Highway 111. As communities mourned, hundreds of you sprung to action by contacting legislators and the Governor to urge them to finally fix Highway 14.
Just over a month later, Governor Tim Walz, MnDOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher, and other state officials announced a funding plan that would combine a large, low-interest federal loan, federal grant funds, state funds, and a contribution from Nicollet County to fully and finally fund a two-lane to four-lane expansion of the Highway between Nicollet and New Ulm. It required legislative approval, but thanks to the bipartisan work of area legislators, the Highway 14 funding authorization was one of the final two bills the legislature passed on March 16, 2020—the final day of in-person operations before the legislature went on hiatus due to COVID-19.
These days, most of the news from Highway 14 is more positive. Construction between Owatonna and Dodge Center continues to progress on track, and federal and state funding for Highway 14 between Nicollet and New Ulm continues to fall into place on schedule, and final design work is under way. In November, the Highway 14 Partnership even received an award from the Minnesota Transportation Alliance for the group’s tireless advocacy over the years and through recent legislative sessions.
That said, issues persist across Highway 14 and we need to see these projects through.
Our work is not done
With two major expansion projects progressing, the Highway 14 Partnership’s work can take a new focus on working toward completion of those projects while working to address dangerous emerging issues along the corridor. In late 2020, plans were unveiled for the future of Highway 14 near the border of Olmsted and Dodge counties, where dangerous intersections need to be addressed. A small chunk of the necessary funding for this project was included in the final 2020 bonding bill, but more efforts will be needed.
Meanwhile, changes to Highway 169 are currently being studied which could impact the interchange with Highway 14, and a project to address the intersection of Highway 14 and County Road 56 near Eagle Lake is tentatively under way for 2022.
Renew for 2021
This message also serves as a reminder to renew your Highway 14 Partnership membership for 2021, if you have not done so already. Simply return a membership form and dues check to the address listed on the membership forms. Current members were mailed renewal forms in the fall, but they can also be found attached to this email and at the links below: