By Gretta Becay
What could improve traffic flow on U.S. Highway 14 between Kasson and Rochester? A study has been launched to determine just that. The partners in the study include Olmsted County, the cities of Byron and Kasson, the state Department of Transportation, and Dodge County. The study will cost $250,000 and MnDOT and Olmsted County are paying the largest share of that cost. At their regular meeting Nov. 26, the Dodge County Commissioners decided to help fund the study and the county will pay $10,000 of the study expense.
County Engineer Guy Kohlnhofer explained to the commissioners that, “Our position is that due to existing infrastructure and sensible future growth potential of both communities, we see County Road 15 as making the most practical sense for an interchange between Trunk Highway 57 [Mantorville Ave. in Kasson] and Olmsted County Road 5 [Second Ave. in Byron].”
The study will look at all the entrances and exits from Highway 14 between Kasson and Rochester, which includes seven intersections.
Kohlnhofer also noted that this section of Highway 14 has been the subject of studies in the past. However, there have been dramatic increases in traffic volumes in recent years fueled by the population growth of Dodge County, Kasson, and Byron. Improving traffic Safety with changes to highway access is a project that must be completed.
Crash data from the MnDOT website shows 182 crashes at the nine intersections from 2014 through 2018. Of those, two were fatal and three caused serious injuries.
The intersection with the most crashes by a wide margin was Olmsted County Road 5 in Byron. There were 60 crashes at that intersection during the five years. The other two intersections with more than 40 crashes each were Olmsted County Road 104 and Tenth Ave. in Byron.
The website explains: “The primary goal of the US 14 Corridor Analysis project is to create a future vision for the corridor that improves safety, manages access, improves freight movement, manages congestion into the future, and encourages economic development. A key focus in accomplishing this goal statement is determining access management options for key intersections along the corridor.”For a map of the area of study, the website is www.us14corridoranalysis.com