ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Department of Transportation today announced three additional Corridors of Commerce projects, valued at over $400 million. The projects were funded by Gov. Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature in this year’s public works bill.
“These urgently needed highway improvements are essential for the safety of our people and the betterment of our economy. Despite the investments I signed into law today, there are over 100 additional transportation improvement projects around the state that are still waiting for funding,” said Governor Mark Dayton. “I strongly urge future Legislatures to make the long-term, sustainable investments that are required to meet all of our state’s under-funded transportation needs. Minnesotans’ safety, quality of life and economic vitality all depend upon it.”
Corridors of Commerce, established by the Legislature in 2013, is intended to improve the state transportation system in ways that specifically support Minnesota’s economy. The projects will be completed over the next four years.
“It is fortunate that the Legislature provided additional funding for this program this year,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “These were the next projects in line to be funded, according to guidance in state law from last year and this bonding bill. The selected projects will enhance the movement of freight and people in the regions where these projects are located which will aid the economy and reduce congestion.”
The three projects selected in this round include:
Highway 14, Owatonna to Dodge Center (Greater Minnesota) – estimate up to $160 million
This project will expand Highway 14 from two lanes to four lanes between Owatonna and Dodge Center, thus completing a continuous four-lane roadway between I-35 and Rochester. The proposed project is intended to improve the capacity, safety, travel times and access to Rochester. Highway 14 previously received more than $58 million in Corridors of Commerce funding for road improvements. Project submitted by several people including Shane Zahrt (TH 14 Partnership) on behalf of the local governments along the corridor.
Highway 23 (Greater Minnesota) – estimate up to $105 million
This project will complete two gaps to create a continuous four-lane roadway from Willmar to St. Cloud. The two locations are from New London to Paynesville and from Paynesville to Richmond. The project will improve roadway capacity, safety, travel times and interstate access to west central and southwest Minnesota residents and businesses. Project submitted by Mel Odens, Kandiyohi County engineer and Jodi Teich, Stearns County Engineer.
Highway 252 and Interstate 94, Highway 610 to Dowling Avenue (Metro District) – estimate up to $163 million, including up to $31 million in committed local funding.
This project will convert Highway 252 to a freeway and install MnPASS lanes on the roadway. The proposed project is intended to improve the capacity of this key corridor and dramatically improve the trip time reliability of the average rush hour trip. Project submitted by John Doan, Hennepin County, and Tony Fischer, Metropolitan Council.
Public input and criteria mandated by Legislature informed project selection process
In January 2018, MnDOT solicited project recommendations from the public, including local units of government, transportation advocates and interested citizens. It also conducted significant public outreach when developing the scoring criteria to be used in project selection. MnDOT received 299 project recommendations from across the state. After duplicate work and ineligible projects were removed, the agency had 172 project recommendations valued at $5.5 billion to consider.
With the assistance of an independent third-party engineering firm, MnDOT scored and ranked the recommended projects using a set of eligibility and selection criteria, which were passed by the Minnesota Legislature in 2017 and required under state law. Criteria included:
- Proposed project’s return on investment
- Economic impact
- Freight efficiency
- Safety improvement
- Regional connections
- Policy objectives
- Community consensus
- Geographic balance
- 50 percent of Corridors of Commerce funding be spent in Greater Minnesota, or those MnDOT areas that are not in the MnDOT Metro District, and 50 percent be spent in the Metro District, which is the seven-county metro area plus Chisago County.
In the 2018 bonding bill, the Legislature added an additional requirement that, in Greater Minnesota, no counties that had received projects in the earlier 2018 awards could receive a project from this bonding bill round of Corridors of Commerce. To date, 51 percent of all Corridors of Commence funding has been allocated for projects in Greater Minnesota while 48 percent has been spent in the Metro District.
Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature created the Corridors of Commerce program in 2013 as a means to build commerce-supporting projects that are not considered in the state’s transportation investment plan. Since Corridors of Commerce started, the program has provided more than $1 billion to dozens of projects across Minnesota. For more information about the program, and to view the submitted project recommendations, visit www.mndot.gov/corridorsofcommerce.