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Minnesota gets $22M to complete Highway 14 corridor

NEW ULM — The pathway is now clear for the completion of the four-lane expansion of Highway 14 from Nicollet to New Ulm.

Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) approved a grant application that would award Minnesota $22 million for the completion of the corridor.

Earlier in the year, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) applied for a Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant.

The BUILD grant will be used along with state funds to complete the corridor. The total cost of the 12.5 mile project is projected at between $89 million and $98 million.

In March, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill to allow MnDOT to secure a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan through the Federal Department of Transportation for the project.

First District Congressman Jim Hagedorn was traveling to New Ulm when approval of the grant was announced. Hagedorn held a special press conference in New Ulm to announce the news. He was joined by State Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, and New Ulm Mayor Bob Beussman.

Hagedorn thanked those who helped make the completion of the project possible.

“It has been a team effort — a bipartisan effort — all along,” he said. “This is a project that has been going for over 50 years. To just be a part of it, in the end, is quite an honor.”

Hagedorn said the expansion of the road to four-lanes impacts multiple aspects of life in the region, including safety, efficiency and economic vibrancy.

Dahms said this project has been a high priority for him and is please it is one step closer to being done.

“This is going to make a difference,” Dahms said. “That has been an unsafe piece of the highway for several years. It also is going to have a major impact on economic development.”

Torkelson said this was a great day for New Ulm.

“It is exciting and is something a long time coming,” he said. Torkelson said Highway 14 was the first thing he was lobbied on in 12 years ago when taking office. “A lot of people worked hard to make this happen.”

“This is a fantastic day,” Mayor Beussman said. Beussman has been a member of the Highway 14 Partnership for years and served as chair of the committee. He was delighted the project was nearing completion. “I am so excited that it is going to happen, thank you, everybody.”

With federal funding secured, there were questions of a construction start day. The exact start day is to be determined by MnDOT. According to the MnDOT website, construction is slated for 2022-23. MnDOT is currently working on land acquisition. The final design is due by the fall of 2021, with the project letting to take place in the winter of 2021-22.

Torkelson said the state was determined to move forward with the project before securing the federal funds, but the grant makes it a solid commitment.

The U.S. Highway 14 Partnership released a statement celebrating the $22 million federal grant.

“This grant will help ensure that Highway 14 expansion between Nicollet and New Ulm can proceed as quickly as possible,” Partnership president Kevin Raney said. ” We’ve waited too long and lost too many neighbors on Highway 14 over the years, but the progress we’ve seen this year is a source of hope. Completion of this project will save lives and help our local economies emerge from the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic.”

Raney thanked fellow partnership members and other advocates who pushed for change for many decades.

“The collaboration that has taken place across multiple levels of government to keep this project moving despite the COVID-19 pandemic is living proof that when we pull together, Minnesotans can tackle big problems,” Raney said.

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