Highway 23 gets more funding
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Highway 23 from New London to Paynesville is on a list of 13 "Corridors of Commerce" highway projects that are being accelerated with new funding.
ST. PAUL - Minnesota Highway 23 from New London to Paynesville is on a list of 13 “Corridors of Commerce” highway projects that are being accelerated with new funding.
The announcement of a $70 million state investment in additional road projects was made Tuesday morning by Gov. Mark Dayton.
Twelve of the Corridors of Commerce projects, including Highway 23, are being funded with existing money approved by the Legislature and the governor as part of a 2014 Corridors of Commerce initiative. The 13th project, a four-lane expansion of Highway 371 from Nisswa to Jenkins, is the result of cost savings within the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
The Highway 23 project will receive $800,000 for right-of-way purchases to expand the highway between New London and Paynesville.
In June, the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced $1.5 million in Corridors of Commerce funding to conduct an environmental study for Highway 23. The move puts the project one step closer to “shovel ready” status and increases its chances of moving forward when additional funding becomes available.
Bob Dols of Willmar, a member of the Highway 23 Task Force, said the funds are “a big deal for the largest city in Minnesota without a four-lane highway.”
“We need to be shovel-ready and this grant and the environmental study funds awarded earlier all help to fill the gaps left,” he said Tuesday.
Rep. Mary Sawatzky, D-Willmar, voted to fund the project and has advocated for filling the Highway 23 transportation gap.
Tuesday’s announcement brings the project closer to being ready for full funding and construction, she said in a news release. “Completing this four-lane corridor would expand economic opportunity and growth for our area. I’ll continue doing all that I can to ensure this project keeps moving forward.”
Altogether, seven of the projects included in the latest round of funding are in Greater Minnesota. Six are in the Twin Cities.
Tuesday’s announcement brings to 27 the number of transportation projects to receive Corridors of Commerce funding since November 2013. The aim is to strengthen the state’s transportation system by adding capacity and improving the movement of freight across Minnesota.