However, Minnesota House Transportation Finance Committee Chairman Frank Hornstein hopes to push legislation this session to fund upgrades for roads like the deadly east-west highway.
Mankato Free staff writer Mark Fischenich reports in Highway 14 upgrades are budgeted:
The Minnesota Department of Transportation confirmed that the long-sought project to upgrade the dangerous stretch of Highway 14 west of North Mankato, which Dayton last summer pledged would be completed in 2017-18, has officially been programmed into the MnDOT budget.
"Now we have that confirmation that the money has been set aside for that portion," Brynaert said.
Completion of that section, which has fatal crash rates well in excess of typical Minnesota two-lanes, will still leave two-lane stretches of Highway 14 between Nicollet and New Ulm and between Owatonna and Dodge Center. The Brynaert bill attempts to speed up completion of an unbroken four-lane from Rochester to New Ulm that has long been a top priority of community leaders along the route.
"It has been a regional goal for over 40 years," said Brynaert, whose legislation is co-sponsored by lawmakers from both parties from throughout the corridor including Republican Reps. Tony Cornish of Good Thunder and Paul Torkelson of Lake Hanska and Democrat Clark Johnson of North Mankato.
In West Concord widow discusses "horror highway" with state Legislators, Owatonna People's Press reporter Derek Sullivan tells a dramatic story about the dangerous road:
Hodgman’s husband, Scott, was killed on Nov. 6, Election Day, just west of the point between Kasson and Dodge Center where Highway 14 goes from four lanes to two lanes.
“My husband Scott was on his way home from work and heading to vote when his vehicle and another collided head-on, killing three people and injuring another. The other two people that were killed were the 10-year old boy who was receiving treatment at the Mayo Clinic and his father,” Hodgman told the committee. “I know this accident could have been avoided if this deadly stretch of Highway 14 would have been a four-lane. I know if Highway 14 was a four-lane that my children, my grandchildren, and I would still have Scott here with us.”
Hodgman’s vehicle collided with a vehicle driven by Jack Reich of Zap, N.D. Both men died as did Jack’s 10-year-old son Vander Reich.
Beth Hodgman, who has lived her entire life two miles from Highway 14, read about the Highway 14 Partnership’s earlier trips to St. Paul. The partnership met with the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee on Feb. 13 and the House Transportation Policy Committee on Feb. 20. She reached out to people in the partnership and asked to be a part of presentation to the House Transportation Finance Committee on Wednesday.
Read both stories to learn more about how bipartisan cooperation may finally make the road safe for travelers. We know from a couple of near misses, when passing cars were coming head on--once with a car managing to squeeze back into its right lane ten feet in front of us--that the testimony isn't hyperbole.
The Free Press reports that Rep. Hornstein will visit Mankato at the end of the week:
"I really want to figure out a way we can move some of these forward," said Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis.
"... Hopefully we can get this done on a bipartisan basis." Hornstein is scheduled to meet with Mankato-area business leaders and transportation officials during a visit to Mankato Friday.
Vicki Jensen (DFL-Owatonna) is chief author of a Highway 14 bill in the Minnesota Senate.
Photo: Via KAAL TV 6, the fatal Election Day accident on Highway 14.
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