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Who’s blocking Highway 14 project?

April 6, 2012
The Journal

To the editor:

Who and what's in the way of the Highway 14 4-Lane Project in my views? As I read and hear about it locally from those of us who aren't in power, they always seem to blame it on the State of Minnesota. I've lived in this town since 1956 and that's always the only reason we hear. Now here is my reason it's not being approved of and probably never will be until the right people are put on the panel to be in charge. I blame it on landowners, County Commissioners and environmental groups in Nicollet County. A few years ago I tried to buy a large tract of land along Highway 14 in Nicollet County and was told by those in charge, to make it short and sweet, that "God has never made enough black dirt" and if I wanted to build my project, it had to be in or next to a city's limit, not in the country. Could this be happening to the Highway 14 Project? Why does Nicollet County need a 4-lane highway anyway? Doesn't that county just revolve around St. Peter which already has Highway 169? Well, what about the cities of Nicollet or Courtland? Don't they deserve to have a good highway system? Don't business owners such as G&S or Hancock in Courtland who manufacture over-size products need a better road to transport (ship) their products safer? That's what everyone wants anyway, a safer road, isn't it?

New Ulm had a chance for a 4-lane project before, back when I-90 came about and Highway 14 was to be I-92, but the City of Rochester, Minn. put an end to that one, just like they did to the DM&E Coal Train Project. (Thank you Tim Walz). New Ulm would have been a switching yard along with a new Railroad Depot, so we lost there also. New Ulm, as I was told growing up, lost its bid for the Ford Plant which went to St. Paul and the cement plant that went to Mason City, Iowa, due to no good road system. New Ulm also lost the Caterpillar Plant (Raygo), Skyline Mobile Homes and Riblet. All would probably still be here if we had a good highway system and in a dying town such as New Ulm, which has only grown by less than 500 people since the early 1970s, we can't afford to lose any more due to a poor highway system.

What should be done to get this passed? Try this: Contact all major companies such as G&S, Hancock in Courtland, Kraft Foods, 3M, AMPI, Firmenich, Schell's Brewery and others in New Ulm. Also get Christensen Farms, BIC (Norwood), Del Monte and Mathiowetz Construction from the Sleepy Eye area, and don't forget Schwan's from Marshall, ADM from Marshall and Running's Distribution from Marshall. Take one person from each of their Transportation Departments along with one person from each and every trucking company along Highway 14 and don't forget the Coop Elevator or even Multi-Billionaire Warren Buffet's Brickyard in Springfield, and make up your Highway 14 Group. You'll have a group of people who can and will get this thing back on track. I may have only been a truck driver for 35+ years, but even a blind man can see what and who is holding up this project. It's Nicollet County and some of its landowners in my views.

Rick Howk

New Ulm



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