St. PAUL – The hopes of local officials that the Highway 23 “gap” between New London and Paynesville and other, area transportation projects in the region would be awarded Corridor of Commerce funds were left unmet.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation awarded a total of $417 million to four projects as part of the 2018 Corridors of Commerce program on Tuesday. None of the hoped-for local projects made the cut.
MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle announced that funding for 2018 has been awarded to:
Highway 169 in Elk River– Estimated cost up to $157 million.
This project will convert Highway 169 in Elk River to a freeway.
Highway 494, France Avenue to Highway 77 – Estimated cost up to $134 million.
This project will construct a MnPASS lane on Interstate 494 from France Avenue to Highway 77 in the
eastbound direction and a MnPASS lane from Highway 77 to I-35W in the westbound direction.
Highway 494, Bush Lake Road to Interstate 35W – Estimated cost up to $70 million.
This project will construct the first phase of a turbine interchange that includes a directional ramp for northbound I-35W to westbound I-494 traffic.
Highway 94, St. Michael to Albertville – Estimate up to $56 million
This project will expand I-94 from four to six lanes between Highway 241 in St. Michael and County Road 19 in Albertville.
“The Corridors of Commerce awards announced this morning demonstrate a massive failure on MnDOT’s part to address transportation needs statewide. Corridors of Commerce was clearly designed to be a statewide program aimed at connecting regional corridors to one another and to the metro area, said Dave Smiglewski, Granite Falls mayor and president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities.
Local officials were hoping to see funding to complete the seven-mile “gap” between New London and Paynesville. They are also seeking funding to complete a second, nine-mile gap between Paynesville and Richmond. That would make possible four-lane access to the metropolitan area via Trunk Highway 23 and Interstate-94.
Local officials had submitted the Highway 23 gap projects for possible Corridor of Commerce funding. Area officials also submitted projects for work on U.S. Highway 212 between Granite Falls and Montevideo and between Sacred Heart and Renville; Highway 23 at locations near Clara City, Priam, Kandiyohi County Road 1, and Kandiyohi County Road 5.