Minnesota's Corridors of Commerce program kicked into high gear today with the groundbreaking of its first project, a $28.3 million expansion of Interstate 94 that will reduce congestion over the Crow River between the cities of Rogers and St. Michael.
As the first shovels hit the ground on this major project, the Minnesota Department of Transportation today announced four additional projects made possible by new Corridors of Commerce funding approved in 2014 by Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature.
"Transportation projects funded by the Corridors of Commerce initiative will reduce travel times, improve safety for Minnesota citizens, and help our businesses transport their products more efficiently," said Governor Dayton. "The number of projects from all over our state, which sought financing from this program, underscores the acute need for more transportation funding to meet the needs of our state's growing economy."
This year, the Legislature added $31.5 million to the Corridors of Commerce program, including $6.5 million to be used in Fiscal Year 2014 for projects in Greater Minnesota, and $25 million in Fiscal Year 2015 for projects statewide. MnDOT today announced the first $6.5 million installment will go to the following projects statewide:
Highway 14 ($1.5 million) for right of way to expand highway between Dodge Center and Owatonna
Highway 23 ($1.5 million) for environmental work on future expansion from New London to Paynesville, and Paynesville to Richmond
Highway 34 ($1.9 million) to build a center-left turn lane in Detroit Lakes from Highway 59 to County Road 14
Highway 2 ($1.6 million) to reconstruct segment of roadway in Deer River
MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle will travel to St. Michael today to help break ground on the I-94 project, and will hold a news conference in Willmar this afternoon to announce funding for work in Owatonna and near Paynesville.
"We need to take care of our transportation system, which is critical to our economy," Zelle said. "The Corridors of Commerce program is a down payment of sorts on transportation projects that are important to Minnesota's future and quality of life. These projects will improve traffic movement and the flow of freight, which will lead to better business and, ultimately, a stronger economy."
MnDOT's goal is to announce the Fiscal Year 2015 projects in fall 2014.
Corridors of Commerce projects taking shape statewide
The Minnesota Legislature created the Corridors of Commerce program in 2013, setting aside $300 million, which becomes available July 1, 2014. That money will fund 10 projects, five of which will start this year. In addition to the I-94 expansion, other projects scheduled to begin this year, and their cost range in 2014, are:
Highway 2 ($8 million to $10 million) to build passing lanes from Cass Lake to Deer River
Highway 34 ($8 million to $10 million) to build passing lanes from Detroit Lakes to Nevis
Highway 14 ($12 million) to build four lanes between Highway 218 to Steele County Road 43
Highway 610 ($100 million) to realign and extend highway from County Road 81 and Elm Creek Boulevard to I-94