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Highway 14 Project Hang-Up

February 19, 2019 08:16 PM

(ABC 6 News)-- Shovels are on standby as MnDOT prepares for a major project on one of Minnesota’s deadliest stretches of road.

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It's been nearly a year since the state legislature approved $160 million in funding to complete the Highway 14 project. However, because of a "technicality", work may not start this year.

Nearly 7 years ago, Beth Hodgman lost her husband in a crash on Highway 14. Two others, including a young boy, were also killed in the head-on collision.

Since Scott’s death, there’s been crash after crash after crash on the same highway. Already this year, a collision took the life of a 73-year-old woman.

“The State of Minnesota is continuing to look the other way,” said Hodgman. “They just say 'Oh the funding is coming'. Now I hear the funding is there, now it's the word in the Bill. It’s always something with them!”

The Highway 14 project will double and divide the road from Dodge Center to Owatonna. But because of an issue with the bonding "wording" construction will be delayed; anywhere from a few months to two years.

“It's very frustrating because you don't know really what the true reason is,” said Minnesota Republican Senator, John Jasinski. “I mean they say it’s technical - you know someone missed something or it was done improperly or too fast - but I always question in the back of mind 'Is someone playing games with us or not?' Because we worked hard to get this passed last year.”

Unless the legislature adopts a bill clarifying the language, the money can't be accessed until 2022.

“Any delay that extends the project because of a technical issue is unacceptable,” said Shane Zahrt, a Lobbyist for the Highway 14 Partnership. “We won't stop working at the legislature until we can do that.”

In the meantime, MnDOT says they aren't sitting idle.

“We are still acquiring property. So we are going to keep working on that,” said Greg Paulson, the Assistant Director Engineer for MnDOT District 6. “The other thing we have been doing is our bid specifications. It's going to be a design bill contract. “

Still, there will be no real sense of peace for Hodgman, that is until the road is safer to travel. “I know what it's like to hear the knock at the door at 8:30 at night thinking that he's supposed to be coming home and he doesn't. Now, how many more people have been killed that go through the same thing as my family has?”

KAAL-TV

Copyright 2019 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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