April 16, 2015
Dear Speaker Daudt and Members of the Minnesota House of Representatives,
The U.S. Highway 14 Partnership would like to thank the House for the work it has done on HF4, the 2015 transportation funding bill which acknowledges the need for greater funding for Minnesota’s highways. We especially appreciate the inclusion of Corridors of Commerce, a mechanism for funding highway expansions like the U.S. Highway 14 project.
Our Partnership would very much like to support HF4, but we cannot. HF4 does not include any money for right of way acquisition, which is necessary for any progress on Highway 14. Further, HF4 does not provide sufficient funding to finish the construction of Highway 14 to four lanes from New Ulm to Rochester in the next ten years.
Purchases of right-of-way and engineering for U.S. Highway 14 will cost approximately $90 million. These costs cannot be paid for with bond proceeds. HF4 does not allocate any trunk highway cash for Corridors of Commerce to cover these costs. Construction cannot occur without first expending these preliminary funds, so Highway 14 cannot see any progress under HF4 as written.
Corridors of Commerce is designed to fund highway connections between Minnesota economies. HF4 pledges $800 million in trunk highway bond proceeds for the entire Corridors of Commerce program for the next ten years. $800 million for Corridors of Commerce will not suffice for the cost of Highway 14 construction. Construction costs to finish Highway 14 are estimated at $295 million. Under Corridors of Commerce, the proceeds from bonds are first split among Greater MN and metro, so in HF4, $400 million would be available for Greater MN. It is unlikely that MnDOT would only fund U.S. Highway 14— there are pressing needs for many projects, including Highway 23 and Interstate 94. We estimate Corridors of Commerce would need about $2 billion in trunk highway bond proceeds to finish constructing U.S. Highway 14.
Again, we appreciate the House coming forward with its $7 billion road and bridge proposal. We look forward to working with you as the process moves forward. We hope that together we can find a way to achieve the 40 year promise to finish U.S. Highway 14.
President, U.S. Highway 14 Partnership