BYRON — Residents of Byron say it’s been a long road getting to the next stage in the evolution of U.S. Highway 14.
Minnesota Department of Transportation officials joined local representatives from Olmsted County, Dodge County, Byron and Kasson for an open house and listening session on Thursday. Nearly 100 people gathered in Byron City Hall to hear peoples’ ideas on improving safety and access on highway 14 between Olmsted County Highway 104 west of Rochester to Minnesota Highway 57 in Kasson.
The consensus? It’s about time.
Some said that talk of replacing two stoplights on the four-lane highway in Byron with one or more interchanges goes back decades, residents said.
Any changes that might come could still be decades away, MnDOT officials said.
Past studies have proposed overpasses and interchanges, said Kaye Bieniek, Olmsted County engineer.
“It just never really came to a consensus or a conclusion,” she said.
“This study hopes to nail down where those interchanges should be,” said Guy Kohlnhofer, Dodge County engineer.
Olmsted County is the lead agency on the study of the corridor.
“We wanted to do an analysis of the corridor as a whole,” Bieniek said.
The Thursday event was one of several planned for this fall and winter to gather ideas on use of the highway, access and safety issues. MnDOT officials will map and design a 20-year plan for the corridor based on public input, Craig Vaughn, SRF Consulting transportation planning consultant, told the crowd.
While funding and design for interchanges are likely years away, Byron residents said the need for safety improvements is now. Aaron Peter, of Byron, asked if incremental changes to improve the highway will be made in the meantime. Vaughn said that was likely.
“I think that’s good,” he said. “Hopefully, we see some results or improvements quicker that way.”
Judy Severson, who lives north of highway 14 in Dodge County said she isn’t concerned about access to her home as much as plans that could stunt the growth of Byron. She noted 280th Avenue at the county line might be passed over for an interchange at Dodge County Highway 15 just west of that intersection. Splitting 280th Avenue could hurt future development in Byron, she noted.
“I just want to see this help Byron develop,” Severson said.
To view the corridor analysis or or to sign up to receive more information about the project visit: www.us14corridoranalysis.com.