Just in time for the Minnesota State Fair, one southern Minnesota chamber of commerce is drawing attention to stalled efforts to expand U.S. 14 with a cartoon.
The New Ulm Area Chamber of Commerce released a cartoon today illustrating the dividers installed on a two-lane stretch of U.S. 14 from New Ulm to Mankato as a temporary safety measure. The cartoon features two cartoon bubbles with words being spoken from two unseen people. One says, "I heard they put evertyhing on a stick this year..." The other responds, "Yep...even the traffic control."
The New Ulm Chamber of Commerce is a member of the U.S. 14 Highway Partnership, which has been pushing to expand U.S. 14 to four-lanes from Rochester to New Ulm to improve safety and spur commerce.
"We are expecting more than traffic control-on-a-stick. We understand the funding isn't there and the cartoon reflects the financial restraints the state and MnDOT have, but this community was promised a four-lane expansion from New Ulm to Mankato over 40 years ago," said chamber President Audra Shaneman in a statement.
Backers of the expansion are unhappy that the MnDOT's draft 20-year State Highway Investment Plan only includes expanding the highway from North Mankato to Nicollett. That leaves several other sections unfunded, including a stretch of U.S. 14 from Dodge Center U.S. 218. That project alone is expected to cost more than $204 million. There have been a string of deadly crashes on that stretch of roadway. In April, widow Beth Hodgman spoke at the Minnesota Capitol on the need to expand the highway after her husband Scott Hodgman was killed in a car crash on the two-lane highway in November.
Click here to Download Hwy. 14 cartoon