Hwy 14 construction underway after 15 years of planning

Samantha Boring
Created: May 03, 2021 07:47 AM

(ABC 6 NEWS) - After years of planning and discussions, another part of Highway 14 is finally starting to see some changes. 

MnDot recently broke ground in April on the final part of the highway expansion project. The goal has always been to make Highway 14 four lanes from Rochester to Mankato and this last 12.5-mile stretch has seen its fair share of setbacks. 

"Highway 14 can be a little bit scary," said Kasson resident, Ingvild Herfindahl. 

If you have ever driven down Highway 14, you know it can get busy. 

"It's heavy traffic on it a lot of trucks," said West Concord resident, Lowell Wright. 

According to MnDot, 18,000 drivers travel on Highway 14 every day. With that heavy traffic comes a lot of crashes and there have been many over the years. 

"I think safety is a number one priority, especially you know like I said with school buses, and semi drivers and people commuting lots of commuters," said Owner of Huckleberry Floral Design and Gift, Mindy Herberg. She added, "A lot of people try to take alternative routes if they can cause 14 is kind of scary sometimes and it is only 55." 

Many people have lost their lives on Highway 14. Brandon Wright is the manager at Sunshine Foods in Dodge Center and said he witnessed a crash two years ago. 

"You know I pull up here and there is a smash Jeep on my right and there is a passenger-side collision," said Brandon Wright. 

One person died in that crash and after all of these issues, the community continued to ask for changes to make the highway safer. After 15 years of meetings and plans, construction finally started at the beginning of April on the 12.5 mile stretch of road between Dodge Center and Owatonna. 

"It is really good to see that we are finally going to have a safer highway here," said Brandon Wright. 

Construction won't be done until 2022, but many people say it is a step in the right direction. 

This stretch of highway costs almost $108 million to change from a two-lane to a four-lane highway.

Looking to the future of Highway 14, the next focus is on the stretch between Byron and Rochester. There have been a number of deadly crashes at intersections there. The first phase of the project is expected to cost $1.2 million with work expected to begin in August 2022.

There is also a proposal for more funding in the latest bonding bill, this still needs to be passed by state lawmakers. 

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