Hwy 14 is a 4-lane highway from Mankato to Rochester, except the section of Hwy 14 from Interstate 35 to Highway 56. The proposed Hwy 14 improvement project will include reconstruction and capacity expansion as a rural 4-lane divided freeway. The proposed alignment is south of existing Hwy 14, paralleling the railroad corridor. Local system access will be provided with overpasses and interchanges. Total project corridor length is approximately 18 miles.
- 1/2 miles East of I-35 to 1.75 miles West of Dodge Center
- 2012 - Complete and Adopt Right of Way Mapping
- Final Design/Right of Way Acquisition/Construction – Dependent Upon Funding Availability
Owatonna to Dodge Center FAQ SECTION
Q: What happens now that the final Environmental Impact Study (EIS) and a preferred study layout has been completed?
MnDOT will next look at completing and adopting Right of Way Mapping for the project. Additionally, MnDOT will evaluate different construction staging scenarios if partial funding would become available.
Q: What is the history and need to reevaluate Highway 14?
The segment of Highway 14 between Owatonna and Dodge Center was previously included in an EIS process, which addressed a broader segment of Highway 14 from Owatonna to Kasson. The EIS process was completed in August 1993. The 1993 EIS defined two project segments. The first segment was an extension of the four-lane, divided expressway from Kasson to the west side of Dodge Center at Highway 56 (including the Dodge Center bypass). This project has since been constructed. The second segment involved extending the four lanes from Highway 56 to Highway 218 in Owatonna. Construction of this segment has not been completed.
With the completion of the Dodge Center to Kasson segment, and the imminent completion of the Highway 14 improvements west of I-35, MnDOT began the process of evaluating the 1993 EIS conclusions regarding the Owatonna to Dodge Center segment. This segment continues to increase in priority given traffic growth, safety concerns, and the logic of completing what will become the last segment of Highway 14 between Mankato and Rochester to be expanded to a four-lane highway. Based on the review of the 1993 EIS and the changes in transportation needs that have taken place since 1993, MnDOT concluded it was most prudent to conduct a new EIS for the Owatonna to Dodge Center segment. This decision was based on the fact that transportation needs along this corridor and MnDOT’s vision for Highway 14 have changed to a controlled access freeway design, as opposed to the expressway design assumed in the 1993 EIS.
Given the change in transportation needs, it was determined by MnDOT that the section along Highway 14 between Owatonna and Dodge Center needed to be reconsidered. In February 2007, a Scoping Decision Document (SDD) for this project was completed. This document identified the alternatives to be evaluated in the current EIS.
Q: What were the goals of the project?
To identify a preferred alternative for a transportation system improvement designed to solve critical travel safety and capacity problems along the section of Highway 14 between Owatonna and Dodge Center. The highway improvements must meet the needs identified below:
- Maintain highway mobility under future traffic conditions
- Improve travel safety
- Enhance system continuity by connecting the four-lane freeway sections at each end of the study corridor
- Foster economic growth along the corridor and throughout the region.
Q: How did MnDOT select alternatives to study?
MnDOT began working with local, state, and federal agencies and the public to develop a broad range of alternatives nearly two years ago during development of the Highway 14 Scoping Document. Some “Scoping” alternatives were dismissed from further study based on public input, environmental considerations, consistency with local land use plans, and consistency with MnDOT’s performance goals and design guidelines. At the beginning of this current study, MnDOT developed several conceptual four-lane highway alternatives and interchanges. These were based on the alternatives recommended for additional analysis in the Scoping Document.
The alternatives were shared with a wide audience—including the public and representatives from agencies and local communities— to determine which alternatives to carry forward into detailed environmental review in the EIS.
Q: Will Highway 14 remain on it’s existing alignment or will the highway be shifted south of the railroad tracks?
The Draft EIS includes three primary alternatives. Alternative 1 is considered the No-Build (Do-Nothing), Alternative 2 proposes to improve the highway on it’s existing alignment, and Alternative 3 proposes to shift the highway alignment south of the railroad tracks. Within the two build alternatives (Alts. 2 & 3) there are several interchange location options being considered.
Q: Will this project affect access to Highway 14?
Yes. The improved Highway 14 will be constructed as a freeway. Private accesses will not be provided to the highway. Instead, less direct access will be provided by a system of frontage roads and interchanges. The Draft EIS discusses how each alternative would provide access to the improved highway. At this time, drivers access Highway 14 from roads that cross the highway or from driveways on land abutting the highway. Highways with little or no access control—like existing US 14—are less efficient and have more safety problems than those with access control and limited access points.
MnDOT is studying the potential for new interchanges at County Road 45, County Road 59, near the City of Claremont, and near Highway 56. Interchanges provide the safest means for traffic to enter and exit highways. Safety is generally improved because turning traffic and crossing movements are removed, and because drivers access/exit the highway from interchange ramps.
Q: What are the potential benefits of this project?
- Improved safety along the highway
- Enhanced and predictable mobility between Owatonna and Dodge Center
- Potential for economic development opportunities
Q: What are the potential challenges of this project?
Social and natural resource impacts such as wetlands, farmlands, surface water drainage, right-of-way & relocation impacts, contaminated properties, historic resources, and access limitations.
Q: How will the potential impacts of the alternatives be analyzed and documented?
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Minnesota Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) require completion of an environmental impact document for projects that have the potential to cause adverse effects on the study area’s social, natural, and built environments. This process identifies the alternatives to be studied, the key environmental issues, and whether there is the potential for significant effects. In turn, this information will be presented in an EIS document and used to decide the level of impacts and is ultimately used to identify the preferred alternative.
Q: Have final decisions been reached? If not, when will that happen?
After the Draft EIS is completed, comments from local, state, and federal agencies, as well as, the public will be reviewed. Taking this information into consideration with the analysis presented in the Draft EIS, MnDOT and the FHWA will decide which alternative should be identified as the preferred alternative. The identification of a preferred alternative is anticipated in late 2009.
Q: What is the project schedule?
The project schedule listed below is anticipated only. The actual duration of the environmental review/approval and selection of a preferred alternative for the project will depend largely on the number of comments received during the Draft EIS comment period. No funding for construction has been identified at this time. A summary of the project schedule is as follows:
- Scoping Process Completed in March 2007
- Complete Draft EIS 2008
- Identification of Preferred alternative late 2009
- Complete Final EIS and Design early 2010
- Construction not currently scheduled (dependent on funding)
Q: When will I know if the project will affect my home, business, and/or land?
Throughout the environmental review process, MnDOT will consider the project’s impact on residences, businesses, and private property. These impacts will be addressed for all the alternatives and in greater detail when a Preferred Alternative is identified. Through the ongoing public involvement process, property owners will be updated on the project status and any potential plans for acquisition of property.
All right of way acquisition and relocation must be done in accordance with procedures set by federal and state law. MnDOT right-of-way and relocation advisors will help develop individual relocation plans and construction becomes more imminent.
Q: Who else is involved in the planning and design of this project?
A Participating Agency Committee has been established that consists of representatives from local, state and federal agencies with potential permitting and approval authority who will assist in guiding the project through the technical, permitting, and statutory requirements of the Project. Important responsibilities of this committee include:
- Provide two-way communication with the Project Team;
- Concur on the project purpose and need
- Concur on the identification of a preferred alternative
- Provide information and communication regarding resource/regulatory issues; and
- Review and comment on project materials including the EIS.
A Project Advisory Committee (PAC) has been established that brings together diverse public interest representatives. They have helped solicit comments regarding the proposed project and incorporate a balanced public interest into the development of the project. Important responsibilities of the PAC include:
1. Provide two-way communication with the Project Team regarding local planning and policy issues
2. Communicate issues and concerns of constituents
3. Review and comment on project deliverables
Q: How can I get involved in this project?
1.Check this website (http://www.dot.state.mn.us/d6/projects/hwy14/) regularly for updated
2. Come to the open houses to learn about the alternatives and their associated impacts.
MnDOT will continue to host open house meetings throughout the project development process. Watch for news releases on upcoming open houses & public meetings.
3. Send your comments and concerns to the MnDOT Project Manager (see below).
Q: Who can I contact to get more information?
Individuals interested in obtaining additional information are encouraged to call or e-mail the following project representative.
MnDOT Project Manager
2900 48th Street NW
Rochester MN 55901