A $22 million federal grant will fund the completion of an improvement project on a deadly stretch of Highway 14 from Nicollet to New Ulm, Gov. Tim Walz announced Thursday.
The U.S. Department of Transportation's Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program awarded the funds to the Highway 14 Mobility and Safety Improvement Project, which means the final expansion of the highway - a 12-mile stretch from Nicollet to New Ulm - will finally be complete.
“As a former member of Congress from southern Minnesota, as someone who has driven countless miles on Highway 14, and as someone who has lost a neighbor on this road, this issue is personal to me, and it’s personal to everyone in this area of the state,” Walz said in a statement.
“Highway 14 will not be safe until it is built out to four lanes, I am glad our partners at the U.S. Department of Transportation recognize this. Together, we will get this done, and we will save lives.”
Minnesota state Rep. Jeff Brand, DFL-St. Peter, called this news "a victory" for people who live in the area, noting “For too long our community has been home to one of the deadliest highways in the state."
"My hope is that this investment will soon be joined by additional federal funds, and that a safe and expanded Highway 14 will soon provide dependable transportation for our region," Brand said.
The Minnesota Legislature earlier this year approved legislation that would allow MnDOT to apply for a federal loan to complete the expansion project. With this BUILD grant money, it will reduce the amount of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan, for which MnDOT will have to apply.
“MnDOT is grateful that the USDOT has recognized the importance of completing these projects,” MnDOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher said. “We’ve taken an ‘all of the above’ approach to funding the final expansion of Highway 14 between New Ulm and Nicollet, and with the long-time support of local advocates and allies and this new federal support, we will get this project done and – most importantly – save lives."
Construction on the final stretch of Highway 14 is expected to begin in 2022.
In addition to the $22 million grant for Highway 14, the state has received a $15 million grant for the Highway 10 Rum River bridge replacement and intersections improvement project in Anoka.
"The Highway 10 Rum River Bridge replacement in Anoka will improve mobility, safety and pedestrian access and the BUILD grant funding will ensure we’re able to design the area to address future traffic projections and other challenges," the MnDOT commissioner said.
Work on the Highway 10 project is expected to begin in 2022.