Another year of advocating for 4 Lanes 4 You is in the books. Much progress was made towards our goal of supporting a 4-lane highway from I-90 in southwest MN to I-35 in northeast MN.
The Highway 23 Coalition continued to work towards increasing safety, encouraging mobility, and promoting growth along the corridor as well as helped create a better option for efficient, safe transportation in 2022.
2022 Priority Projects
In 2022, the Highway 23 Coalition supported two priority projects. A priority project provides an area of focus for the Coalition and helps to ensure efforts are impactful by not diluting funding requests. For 2022, the following priority projects were identified:
4-Lane Feasibility Study between Foley and Milaca
This project was brought to the forefront in 2022. Through its identification as a priority project, the project was a focal point for advocacy by the coalition and therefore it has been presented as a potential recipient for Corridors for Commerce funding in 2023.
Through the discovery process, a need was identified to expand the scope of this project for 2023 to include the Milaca to Mora stretch. Learn more about the 2023 Priority Projects here.
4-Lane Extension Study between Green Valley and Marshall
Coalition members began meeting with Bolton & Menk to work on project requests forms seeking federal funding for three projects along the Hwy 23 Corridor, including the preferred 4-lane route study from the City of Marshall to the City of Green Valley. Bolton & Menk continues to gather information for each project to submit funding requests.
Through the discovery process, a need was identified to expand the scope of this project for 2023 to include Green Valley to Granite Falls for a total distance of 28 miles.
2022 Ancillary Projects
Highway Reconstruction from Pipestone to Russell
The Highway 23 Coalition is seeking funding for predesign, design, engineering, and reconstruction of Trunk Highway 23 from U.S. Highway 75 in the city of Pipestone to 1.8 miles north of marked Trunk Highway 91 in the city of Russell. This segment of Highway 23 has greatly deteriorated, jeopardizing mobility and safety of commuter and freight traffic and the region’s economic health. If funded, the project is planned for construction in 2026.
J-Turn at Bel Clare Dr. in Waite Park
The Highway 23 Coalition is seeking funding for design engineering and construction activities to advance the Bel Clare Drive Intersection Improvement Project in the City of Waite Park. This project supports the needs and future transportation investments necessary to serve a large growth area in the St. Cloud metropolitan area. The proposed reduced conflict intersection (RCUT) will greatly improve safety at an intersection that currently serves 30,000 vehicles per day on Trunk Highway 23 and large amounts of grain haulers traveling to and from ADM Grain Elevator directly adjacent to the project. If funded, the project is planned for construction in 2025.
Intersection Safety Improvements at Hwy 9 and 23 in New London
The Highway 23 Coalition is working with MnDOT, the City of New London, and Kandiyohi County to secure funding for design engineering, environmental documentation, right-of-way acquisition, and construction activities to advance the Highway 23 and Highway 9 Interchange Project in the City of New London. Determination of the exact solution is still in process, but a solution is a community desire to improve safety and mobility and address increasing serious and fatal crashes occurring at this congested at-grade intersection with Trunk Highway 23.
In addition to advocacy, the following work was done in 2022 on previous initiatives.
North Gap Groundbreaking
To celebrate the groundbreaking on the Highway 23 North Gap, a ceremony was held on May 6th. There was a great turnout for the groundbreaking with a room full of high energy and excitement.
“One highlight was having a 96 year old former resident along with a newborn that represented the past and future of hwy 23. It really put into perspective what a wonderful opportunity this really is,” said Highway 23 Coalition Board Chair, Jeff Bertram.
North Gap Work
The MnDOT Hwy 23 North Gap project consists of reconstruction and expansion of 9 miles of Minnesota Highway 23 from two to four lanes between Stearns CR 33 in Paynesville and Highway 22/Grant Ave SW in Richmond.
2022 brought a successful construction season for the Highway 23 North Gap. Great weather during the construction season allowed for the project work to stay on time and concluded with opening the section for winter driving on time as well. The work will continue throughout 2023 and is slated to finish in November 2023.
South Gap Funding
The MnDOT Hwy 23 South Gap project consists of expansion of Minnesota Highway 23 from New London to Paynesville from two lanes to four lanes.
South Gap funding had movement in 2022 to include in person and virtual open houses. Looking forward to 2023, a bid will be awarded, groundbreaking ceremony will take place in the spring and construction work will begin. Learn more about the South Gap Detours here.
Groundbreaking for that project will be this spring.
Other 2022 Highlights
Action takes person-power and the Highway 23 Coalition made great strides in achieving this in 2022.
Partnership with Bolton & Menk
Coalition members have been meeting with Bolton & Menk, which is now under contract with the Coalition, and has been a great partner. Bolton & Menk continues to gather information for each project to submit funding requests.
New Highway 23 Coalition Coordinator, Tracy Duininick
Tracy Duinick was hired in October of 2022 to serve as the Highway 23 Coalition Coordinator. The coordinator is responsible for assisting with the promotion of the mission, vision, goals and action plans of the Coalition. Tracy has been a fantastic asset in helping to keep the momentum that the board has built over 2022. Learn more about the coordinator here.
Board Work Continues
As of January 2023, the Highway 23 Coalition now has a full board seated with continued representation from across the corridor. Board members continue to have monthly board meetings along with regular committee meetings and continuous dialog with state officials to further the cause. Meet the board here.
The momentum continues to be strong in 2023. We’re excited to share that four projects are being submitted in partnership with Bolton & Menk to various funding sources such as the Corridors of Commerce program. Learn more about the projects here.
According to Highway 23 Coalition Board Chair, Jeff Bertram, “2023 is looking good and we’re off to a fast start with the Corridors of Commerce funding and annual meeting coming up!”