State approves ‘Corridors of Commerce’ projects to boost highway capacity
Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced Thursday that 10 highway construction projects will receive funding through the state’s new $300 million Corridors of Commerce program.
The projects are designed to strengthen Minnesota’s transportation system by adding capacity and improving the movement of freight across the state. The selected projects include one in the region on Highway 2. The project has a preliminary cost of $8-10 million to create passing lanes from Cass Lake to Deer River. The project is slated for 2014.
“These projects will reduce travel times and improve safety for Minnesota citizens, and help our businesses transport their products more efficiently,” said Dayton in a news release. “The number of projects from all over our state, which sought financing from this program, underscores the acute need for more transportation funding.”
Transportation improvements include the addition of lanes, bypasses and shoulders to essential travel corridors in the state, including Interstate 94 between Rogers and St. Michael, Highway 14 in southern Minnesota, and Highway 34 between Detroit Lakes and Nevis. The bonding authority is effective July 1, 2014, with five projects scheduled to start in 2014, three in 2015 and two in 2016.
The selected projects were among more than 400 proposals representing more than 100 unique projects the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) received earlier this fall from public sector partners, stakeholders and interested residents across the state. Agency staff evaluated eligible projects on selection criteria that included project readiness and deliverability, community support, projected return on investment, and safety impacts.
“These projects represent a great first step for the Corridors of Commerce program,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “These critical improvements demonstrate our commitment to providing a commerce friendly network of freight corridors to ship goods and provide safety and mobility to all users.”
Enacted during the 2013 legislative session, the Corridors of Commerce program authorizes trunk highway bonding to be used for projects that are not already in the state’s four-year State Transportation Improvement Program. The legislation established two major goals for the program: to increase highway capacity on segments where bottlenecks occur and to improve the movement of freight and reduce barriers to commerce.
Other projects with estimated costs and construction start years are: Interstate 94 from Minnesota 101 to Minnesota 241, $35 million to $46 million, 2014; Highway 34, passing lanes from Detroit Lakes to Nevis, $11 million to $15 million in 2014; Highway 14, four-lanes from Owatonna to Dodge Center for $16-$20 million in 2014; Highway 610, freeway from Highway 81 to Interstate 94, $103 million to $131 million, 2014; Highway 14, four lanes from North Mankato to Nicollet, $20 million to $28 million, 2015; Highway 14, Nicollet Bypass, four lanes, $15 million to $25 million, 2015; Interstate 694, dynamic shoulder lane from Rice to Lexington, $35 million to $42 million, 2015; Highway 169, four lanes from Highway 15 to one mile east of Highway 7, $14 million to $20 million, 2016; Highway 23, passing lanes from Willmar to Interstate 90, $13 million to $19 million, 2016.
“There were many good project proposals submitted, indicative of the need and desire to improve Minnesota’s transportation network,” Zelle said. “Unfortunately, we have more projects than money to go around. I’ve been travelling around the state this fall to draw attention to the need for a long-term stable funding source for transportation. My hope is that state and local governments, stakeholders and user groups will join together to address this problem today, to keep our state competitive tomorrow.”
More information about the Corridors of Commerce program may be found at www.mndot.gov/corridorsofcommerce/ and a map of the projects may be downloaded at http://www.mn.gov/governor/images/corridors_of_commerce_map.pdf for video of the news conference go to ftp://ftp2.dot.state.mn.us/pub/outbound/ocpr/corridors/