MANKATO — Keith Keogh of St. Peter said he suspects the head transportation honchos in St. Paul don’t really need a regular guy’s opinion, but as long as the public was invited he figured on giving his two cents anyhow.
About a dozen people attended an open house by teleconference Monday afternoon in Mankato about the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s 20-year plan. Keogh was the only one who spoke.
He said after the meeting he was disappointed MnDOT isn’t going to overlay the northbound lanes of Highway 169 next year between St. Peter and Le Sueur. The state is raising about two miles of the road above the floodplain and repairing about nine miles of it, but only the southbound lanes.
These highways were originally built in the early '60s, when the Minnesota River’s high-water elevation was assumed at about five feet lower than the actual 100-year flood elevation.
Keogh would also have preferred a gas tax increase of 5 cents a gallon. Gov. Mark Dayton’s opposition doomed the measure last session.
Amanda Duerr, a lobbyist with the Highway 14 Partnership, testified about Highway 14, saying she was disappointed the state was not making the highway a priority. The four-lane upgrade from North Mankato to Nicollet is funded, beginning in 2018, but the two remaining gaps – from Nicollet to New Ulm and from Owatonna to Dodge Center – are not.
Terry Genelin, who represents the townships of Nicollet County on the Region Nine Development Commission, said central Minnesotans who testified about Highway 94 made a good case for the six-lane expansion from Rogers to St. Michael.
And he said new federal standards, called MAP21, are putting pressure on states to spend more money maintaining high-volume interstates.
“Under MAP21, I don’t think that’s going to be in the cards for awhile,” he said of the Highway 94 request.