Olmsted County seeking state and federal funds for Highway 14 interchange

Federal grant application for $60.2 million project is being submitted as county waits on potential state funding.

Highway 14 Intersection
Medians are closed at the Highway 14 intersection at County Road (CR) 44 on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, near Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

ROCHESTER — A request for federal funding is being added to Olmsted County’s quest to fully fund a proposed $60.2 million interchange project at the intersection of U.S. Highway 14 and County Road 44.

The county also has requested additional state support for the project located between Rochester and Byron.

“Funding it has always been a challenge,” Olmsted County Principal Transportation Planner Charlie Reiter said.

The county has secured $19 million in local and state funds to start planning and other work, which is underway, but requests to secure state funds to support at least 50% of the project have been unsuccessful in the past, and it’s unclear whether Minnesota lawmakers will opt to borrow funds to support infrastructure projects this year.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has closed the median at the intersection in response to safety concerns related to existing traffic. The closing has been referred to as a temporary step until funding for a new interchange can be secured.


Kaye Bieniek, the county’s physical development division administrator, said a decision on funding through the state’s Corridors of Commerce program is expected in May, but approval of less than the requested $41.2 million could still leave the county short of funding for the project.

The Corridors program, overseen by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, is designed to fund state highway projects that directly and indirectly foster economic growth and relies on funds approved by the Minnesota Legislature.

With the uncertainty in funding sources, the county is also seeking a U.S. Department of Transportation grant designed to develop local and regional infrastructure projects.

“I think we are asking for the full amount — $41 million,” County Commissioner Mark Thein said of the application being filed this month. “We are throwing a Hail Mary pass.”

Bieniek said the timing of the state and federal grant deadlines requires overlapping submissions, but dual requests shouldn’t deter one award or the other.

“We certainly think about that,” she said of the potential conflict but added that state transportation officials encouraged the county to submit requests at the state and federal level.

If full funding for the project can be secured, the current timeline calls for final design of the interchange project to be completed this year, with plans to start construction in 2024.

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or
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