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No federal funding for Highway 14 in 2020

NEW ULM — Highway 14 will receive no funding from the federal government in 2020.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Highway 14 Partnership worked with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to apply for a $25 million grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program. Had Highway 14 been selected for the federal funding, MnDOT would have committed more than $600 million in state funds to help make the project a reality. Nicollet County also planned to contribute to the project.

Tuesday, it was announced Highway 14 would not receive BUILD money.

The 12 miles between Nicollet and New Ulm are the final stretch of Highway 14 that remains unfunded, of the section between Rochester and New Ulm.

Failing to secure BUILD funds, Highway 14 advocates are renewing calls to Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Legislature to fund the project in 2020.

“We are disappointed that Highway 14 was not selected for a federal BUILD grant, but this latest setback only re-enforces the importance of the 2020 legislative session,” the President of the U.S. Highway 14 Partnership Karen Foreman, a member of the Mankato City Council, said. “We have made huge progress on Highway 14 safety and expansion in recent years, but only when legislators from both parties have come together to put safety over politics,” she said. “We call on Gov. Walz and the Legislature to find a way to finish this final phase of Highway 14 expansion so that we can finally drive on four lanes from New Ulm to Rochester.”

Despite the outcome of the federal grant selection, Foreman is grateful for the legions of Highway 14 supporters who launched an aggressive campaign aimed at boosting the project’s chances of obtaining a BUILD grant.

“On behalf of the Highway 14 Partnership, I extend my sincere gratitude for the hundreds of individuals, businesses and local governments who wrote letters in support of Highway 14’s bid for federal funding. I also thank the MnDOT officials who worked tirelessly to craft the BUILD grant application,” said Foreman.

Foreman added, “With the 2020 Legislature expected to consider a sizable state bonding package, we ask all of our partners to now direct their passion and energy toward the governor and state legislators.”

First Minnesota District Rep. Jim Hagedorn, a Republican, said in a statement that he remains committed to completing the Highway 14 Corridor.

“In bipartisan fashion, I worked alongside Gov. Walz, MnDOT officials, local legislators and others to fiercely advocate for this project. Special thanks to the governor for personally contacting Secretary Chao and helping us make our case,” said his statement.

“Completion of the Highway 14 from Nicollet to New Ulm and securing further airport improvements for Rochester and Mankato remain my top infrastructure priorities,” said the statement. “For safety, commerce and many other reasons these projects are critically needed. I pledge to continue working with all involved, in truly bipartisan fashion, to gain the necessary funding to complete the long overdue Highway 14 Corridor project and secure additional safety fixes at Mankato Regional and Rochester International Airports as soon as possible.”

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