Editorial: It’s time to speak on Hwy. 23 gap needs
Transportation is one of the hot topics in 2015 at the Minnesota Legislature, and west central Minnesota needs a slice of tha pie. On Friday, area business leaders will have a chance to tell a Senate committee about the need to fill the gaps on M...
Transportation is one of the hot topics in 2015 at the Minnesota Legislature, and west central Minnesota needs a slice of tha pie. On Friday, area business leaders will have a chance to tell a Senate committee about the need to fill the gaps on Minnesota Highway 23.
Gov. Mark Dayton Tuesday announced 607 reasons Tuesday to support his current transportation plan to fund $6 billion in investments on Minnesota roads and bridges over the next decade, as Forum News Service’s Don Davis reported.
Highlighted on the governor’s priority list among the nearly 40 projects located in west central Minnesota was expansion of Highway 23’s two-lane section from Paynesville to New London. That is good news, but keep in mind this is a decade-long plan that can change at any moment.
It certainly is not a done deal.
The bad news is that Highway 23’s two-lane segment from Paynesville to Richmond did not even make the governor’s proposal as a four-lane expansion project.
This means Willmar and west central Minnesota would continue as the only bottlenecked region in the state living without four-lane access to the Twin Cities metro region or our nation’s Interstate Highway System. Willmar remains the state’s largest city without four-lane access.
A 2002 Minnesota Department of Transportation report intro reads “A two-lane to four-lane roadway improvement can spur new development adjacent to the improved corridor, as well as beyond. In Missouri, two-lane to four-lane improvements frequently result in increased economic development on the local and regional levels. Increased economic efficiencies also result through reduced transportation costs.”
Willmar and west central Minnesota have been telling state, MnDOT and economic development officials that for decades. The state simply has failed to make the adequate transportation investment in this region and the lack of four-lane access continues to hinder the regional economy.
Just listen to our business people and they will tell.
For several decades now, the region’s four-lane battle cry has been led by forward-thinking business people, like Northern States Supply businessman Bob Dols and and the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, continually lobbying on this critical transportation issue. Thank you to the business community for their continued efforts.
Local business people will have an opportunity again Friday to speak up on this critical transportation need before the Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee. After holding a hearing in St. Cloud earlier Friday, the committee will travel southwest along the two-lane gaps on Highway 23 to Willmar for a 3:20 p.m. meeting at Northern States Supply in the Industrial Park.
This is our chance to speak up about the importance of completing the Highway 23 four-lane from Willmar to Interstate 94 and helping our regional economy. We encourage business people to turn out and speak up on this issue.
It’s time to get ‘er done and fill the gaps on Highway 23 to Willmar and west central Minnesota.1