The long-awaited Highway 14 expansion project kicked off Nov. 1 at a ceremonial ground-breaking east of Owatonna. Dignitaries who attended included Governor Tim Walz, Congressman Jim Hagedorn, Owatonna Mayor Tom Kunz, State Senators David Senjem and John R. Jasinski and Transportation Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher.
The contract for the $108 million project was awarded to Shafer Contracting of Shafer, MN. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2022. Governor Walz said, “It’s getting done because of collaboration,” and thanked many of the people involved in getting the project to this point.
Senator Senjem quipped, “If you’re not excited [about the project starting,] you don’t have a heartbeat.”
For the last several years, Dodge County Commissioners have adopted a legislative platform and presented it annually to state elected leaders representing Dodge County. Highway 14 continuously has been the number 1 priority. Dodge County Board Chair John Allen said, “We’re glad our legislators got together and pushed this issue through, which is not a small feat considering how many years people in this community have been talking about this road needing to get done.”
In a phone call, Dodge County Engineer Guy Kohlnhofer explained that when the project is completed, there will probably be significant economic impacts to Claremont and Dodge Center. He also said that traffic will most likely increase on the road substantially because many drivers now choose to travel on Interstate 90 to avoid the 12 miles of two-lane highway between Owatonna and Dodge Center.
He talked about the advantages of the expansion plans including two interchanges and an overpass rather than so-called ‘at-grade’ intersections to the highway that have historically remained, like those east of Kasson.
The interchanges will be at County Road 3 and a combination of Highway 56 and County Road 5. The overpass will be at County Road 1.
Most importantly, the expansion will save lives, he emphasized.More detailed information about the project is available at www.dot.state.mn.us/d6/projects/hwy14/.