Is MnDOT becoming the Hwy. 14 Grinch?
Over the years the Minnesota Department of Transportation has seemed to respond to the Highway 14 expansion project like an owl. Whenever it came to funding the four-lane expansion all the way to New Ulm, MnDOT has said: “Who? Who?” It has even refused to include Highway 14 project’s completion in its long-range planning and priority list.
In the past couple of years, however, the vitally necessary Highway 14 project has been getting some funding from the “Corridors of Commerce” program, an initiative by MnDOT to funnel transportation money to projects that have a positive economic impact, especially by connecting economic centers and removing barriers to commerce. Highway 14 has been receiving some good money from this program, which has $400 million to allocate this year.
But now MnDOT is changing the rules on how it decides which projects get what. In the past, the funding was split 50-50 between Greater Minnesota and the metro area. But now, MnDOT is proposing rules that will award more points to highway projects that connect to the Twin Cities area. Highway 14 connects New Ulm to Mankato and Rochester, but not to the Twin Cities, so we suppose it would be at a disadvantage under the new rules.
Well, that’s unfair. Highway 14 proponents have been waiting for the next year’s allocation decision like the citizens of Whoville waiting for Christmas presents under their trees. Is MnDOT getting ready to yank the presents away like some bureaucratic Grinch? We hope not.