Let’s pack the room

On Friday, March 8, members of the Minnesota House of Representatives Transportation Finance and Policy Division will hold a field hearing from noon to 3 p.m. in the Mankato City Hall, 10 Civic Center Plaza, Mankato. The meeting is being held to gather public input on the Highway 14 expansion project funding bill that was introduced in the House earlier this session.

Public testimony will be welcome, we have been told.

Well, let’s give it to them.

Let’s fill the meeting room with people who have suffered injuries or lost loved ones in accidents on that dangerous stretch of two-lane highway between here and Nicollet.

Let’s fill the room with business owners who struggle to compete with businesses who have the advantage of access to four-lane highways. Or business developers who have seen New Ulm passed over by industrial expansion because of our lack of four-lane access.

Let’s tell the House members how long we have been working and waiting for action on this expansion. You can go back 20 or 30 years in old issues of The Journal and find editorials and articles calling for a four-lane Highway 14 expansion into New Ulm.

For too long, the expansion all the way to New Ulm has been put on hold. Studies have been done and plans have been made. There has been no doubt about the need for the project, but for years no money has been set aside to finish this project. But this year a bill, SF 703/HF 538, authored by Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) and Rep. Jeff Brand (DFL-St. Peter), was introduced to provide $85 million in state trunk highway bonding funds to expand the 12-mile segment of Highway 14 between Nicollet and New Ulm from two lanes to four. Let’s pack the meeting room on Friday to let legislators know they need to pass this bill.

Those who wish to offer testimony on the Highway 14 bill should contact John Howe via at john.howe@house.mn, or by calling 651-296-3208 to let them know you will be testifying.