Highway 14 is a major east-west highway that provides important links between the interregional corridors of Interstate 35 (I-35) in Owatonna, Highway 52 in Rochester, and Trunk Highway 169 in Mankato. The project proposes to improve approximately 12.5 miles of Highway 14 from 0.7 miles east of Steele County 43 (SE 44th Avenue, east of Owatonna) to Highway 56 North (190th Avenue, west of Dodge Center).
This section of Highway 14 between Dodge Center and Owatonna is the remaining 12.5 miles to be completed from two-lane to four-lane. Once this project is completed, Highway 14 will be a four-lane highway from Mankato to Rochester. This will provide the traveling public with an access controlled highway to improve mobility through southern Minnesota.
The primary need for the Highway 14 Expansion project is to maintain highway mobility of Highway 14 under future traffic conditions from the City of Owatonna, Steele County to Highway 56 in the City of Dodge Center, Dodge County, Minnesota. At the current traffic volumes, highway safety has been a large concern for years. With only a single lane in each direction, a slow moving vehicle creates long lines of traffic with limited opportunities to pass. Additionally, there are numerous local road intersections and driveway accesses where vehicles turning can create additional slowdowns. Therefore, due to the current lack of a four-lane roadway, in addition, to the lack of access control the highway is not meeting this need. A four-lane roadway with access control will eliminate traffic slowdowns resulting from turning vehicles and will provide the additional lane for passing of slow moving vehicles. This expansion will provide safety benefits while improving Highway 14’s capacity, reducing travel time, and improving the interregional commerce connection.
Secondary needs for the project include:
- Improve travel safety concerns, travel time reliability, and reduce congestion on a corridor that has 18,000 daily commuters,
- Provide system continuity by completing a four-lane highway facility along Highway 14 between Mankato and Rochester, and
- Address capacity concerns on a key southeastern Minnesota economic and agriculture corridor and its impacts on growth along the two-lane highway corridor
The Highway 14 expansion project is located in eastern Steele County and western Dodge County as shown in Exhibit 1-1. The Design-Build procurement method will be utilized to design and construct 12.5 miles of rural four-lane divide freeway on a new alignment south of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, which traverses through Steele and Dodge counties. The project begins 0.7 miles east of Steele County Road 43/SE 44th Avenue (east of Owatonna). This is just west of the existing location of the at-grade highway and railroad crossing with Canadian Pacific Railway in Steele County. The project continues east toward the City of Claremont and Dodge Center on a new alignment that primarily parallels the southern edge of the railroad corridor. The new alignment swings south away from the railroad corridor near the west limits of Claremont. The new alignment swings back to the north again on the east side of Claremont and continues to parallel the railroad to the eastern termini at the existing four-lane near TH 56 west of the City of Dodge Center. Exhibit 1-2 provides the roadway alignment for the project.
In addition to the Highway 14 roadway realignment, the project will include the realignment and construction/reconstruction of approximately 5 miles of local roadways. This local roadway work is necessary as the Highway 14 corridor will become an access controlled highway. An access controlled highway does not allow driveways, access points and points of conflict except at interchanges. In order to re-establish local access for several properties, which include a combination of homes and farm fields, this local roadway work is necessary. Two interchanges will be included in the roadway realignment so points of entry and exit are provided from the new highway onto the local roads.
The two interchanges will be constructed at:
- Dodge County State Aid Highway 3, 130th Avenue
- Highway 56/Dodge County State Aid Highway 5
These interchange locations were selected to provide access to and from Highway 14, for the community of Claremont and the communities along the Highway 56 roadway. In addition to the access need to Highway 14, there is also a need to maintain access across Highway 14 at points where there are no interchanges. To allow for this access while maintaining the access controlled highway, two overpass bridges over the highway will be built.
Two overpass bridges will be constructed over Highway 14 at:
- Steele County State Aid Highway 16 (Bridge No. 74025)
- Dodge County State Aid Highway 1/West Street (Bridge No. 20018), and
An additional overpass bridge is necessary due to the close proximity of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. In order to eliminate an at rail-grade crossing on Highway 56 and still provide access to the traveling public an overpass bridge over the railroad is part of the Highway 14 Expansion project.
One overpass bridge over Canadian Pacific Railroad will be constructed at:
- Highway 56 (Bridge No. 20021) over the Canadian Pacific Railroad.
This combination of interchanges and overpasses amount to a total of five bridges that will be included in the project. While bridges are also commonly used to cross rivers and streams, there are not rivers or streams in the corridor. However, there are several existing drainage ways that are impacted or crossed with the new Highway 14 alignment. The new highway will generate additional surface runoff water. This surface runoff will require treatment for both the rate at which the water runs off the new highway right of way and treatment for sediment and salts that are used and generated on the roadways. This requires the project to construct several drainage structures and storm water ponds in the 12.5 mile project corridor.
Finally, a huge safety benefit of the new Highway 14 Expansion project and the alignment paralleling the Canadian Pacific Railroad is that it allows for the closure and removal of multiple existing at grade rail crossings.
The crossings closures are located at:
- Highway 14, (USDOT 193375U), Owatonna, Steele County
- 64th Avenue SE, (USDOT 193374M), Owatonna, Steele County
- 28th Street SE, (USDOT 193311H), Owatonna, Steele County
- 74th Avenue SE (USDOT 193373F), Owatonna, Steele County
- County State Aid Highway 16, ( USDOT 193372Y), Steele County (included as Overpass Bridge)
- Private Field Crossing, (USDOT 193393S), Steele County
- Private Field Crossing, (USDOT 193313W) Steele County
- 110th Avenue (USDOT 193307T), Claremont, Dodge County, currently closed, but not removed
- 140th Avenue (USDOT 193368J), Claremont, Dodge County
- Private Field Crossing (USDOT 193305E), Claremont, Dodge County
- 150th Avenue (USDOT 193367C), Claremont, Dodge County
- 630th St (USDOT 193366V), Claremont, Dodge County
- County State Aid Highway 5 (USDOT 193365N), Dodge County
The elimination of these at-grade rail crossings includes the main crossing closure on Highway 14 in Havana Township (USDOT 193375U), located on the east side of Steele County. This crossing location currently carries more than 7,000 vehicles a day.
At the east end of the project just south of the existing intersection of Highway 14 and Highway 56, Bridge 20010 is an existing overpass over the Canadian Pacific Railroad. This Bridge will remain after the project for the local road system. However, the existing Bridge 20011 (Highway 14 over Dodge County H) will be demolished following the completion of the new Highway so that Dodge County H can be realigned to utilize a portion of the existing Highway 14 as a local roadway.
The Highway 14 Expansion project will complete a continuous 37 mile four-lane roadway between I-35 in Owatonna and Rochester. The total construction project corridor length is approximately 12.5 miles.
The project Includes:
- concrete paving
- bituminous paving
- multiple new bridges
- multiple new drainage structures
- demolition of 15 buildings
- realignment and reconstruction of existing local roads
The Final Environmental Impact Statement and Final Section 4(f) Evaluation for Highway 14 from Interstate 35 to Highway 56 in Steele and Dodge Counties, Minnesota was approved on July 30th 2010, with the Record of Decision following in September 2010.
The EIS identified the potential social, economic, and environmental impacts.