Our loyal readers know that the dangers of Highway 14 are a frequent subject for BSP; we were almost killed in October driving to Rochester. The Strib has just published Hwy 14: Highway of Horrors, a long article that reiterates the scattered discussion about the killer road.
We recommend reading the whole thing, which sets out the circumstances that have kept the road's bad reputation intact (so bad that the highway formed part of my parents' catalogue of stories to scare us children). The article notes deaths affecting policymakers:
In 1996, a neighbor of U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Mankato, died one foggy morning east of Mankato. The neighbor, Charles Ingman, was struck head-on by an oncoming vehicle that was passing another car.
“It’s a death trap,” Zellmer said later. “There’s not too many people around here who don’t know somebody who hasn’t been killed or severely injured on that highway.”
The head of the Highway 14 Partnership identifies the source of the ongoing death toll:
“The carnage that we see along Highway 14 is a sad reflection of the unwillingness of our leaders to make needed improvements in our transportation infrastructure,” said Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz, president of the U.S. Highway 14 Partnership.
Work will start on the notorious Waseca to Owatonna stretch at midsummer, but it's not the only problem with the road, which runs east-west across the entire First Congressional District:
Molnau declined to be interviewed, but said in a written statement, “This administration inherited the problems on Highway 14 — but we’re the ones fixing them. ... This administration has supported Highway 14 improvements and will continue as funds allow.’’
Kuntz and other southern Minnesotans say that MnDOT is putting fiscal restraint ahead of road improvements that would save lives.
Their biggest frustration is that MnDOT has not yet set a definite time to widen the increasingly busy two-lane stretch from New Ulm to North Mankato. According to a MnDOT document, one part of that road has a crash rate and crash severity rate “significantly higher than average for a rural two-lane road.”
No construction is scheduled on that stretch, MnDOT said, because no money is available.
Perhaps the Strib's political reporters and editors will understand now why Southern Minnesotans have things on their minds that are a bit closer to home than grandstanding with the Minutemen on the Arizona border. Perhaps having a Congressman on the transportation committee will matter more than photo ops.
For look at our past posts about Highway 14, look at our "Transportation" category.
Speaking of immigration, we missed a pro-Walz letter on the subject in the Mankato Free Press today. Go read it.