The push to upgrade a major thoroughfare in southern Minnesota continues, with members of the Highway 14 Partnership meeting in Owatonna last week to discuss the legislature’s actions and chart a course forward. Lobbyist Carolyn Jackson says they didn’t get the higher level of funding needed but can’t be totally disappointed because there was progress. Jackson says, “We want to see a little bit heftier money going into transportation, so that Corridors of Commerce can be funded at a higher level and we can see real progress.” Jackson says expanding Highway 14 is long overdue and the need will only increase over time. In addition to safety concerns, communities along the corridor fear they’ll miss out on economic development opportunities.
The Highway 14 Partnership played a central role in re-shaping how highway projects are selected. The new law requires funding be regionally balanced, and Jackson says that’s important because Highway 14 isn’t as congested as other roads in Minnesota. She says, “While Highway 14 is an extremely dangerous highway, it simply doesn’t have the same accident count because it doesn’t have the congestion and the traffic that some of the highways in the metro area or the interstates have.”