Dear Answer Man: What is the completion date for MnDOT's U.S. Highway 14 project from Dodge Center to Owatonna? — Terry Nelson

Terry, while Answer Man has been known to take the "road less traveled" from time to time, right now, we're talking about a road that's never been traveled. The new alignment of Highway 14 means the stretch of road being worked on right now will all be new road following a new — mostly parallel — path to the old, current, Highway 14.

Still, that new road should be ready for traffic in late fall 2021, according to Mike Dougherty, Minnesota Department of Transportation District 6 spokesman.

In the spring of 2022, Dougherty said, there will be some additional work to tie in some county and township roads to the new Highway 14.

"They’re right on schedule," he said. "The weather has been relatively cooperative."

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Currently, construction crews are grading the new road bed, and recently, they finished an overpass bridge at Dodge County Road 1 near Claremont. Other work has been done near intersections at Steele County Road 16 and Dodge County Road 3. Crews have also completed a new route for 630th Street near County Road 1.

Dougherty said the $108 million project will improve the safety of motorists on the road because the cross traffic doesn’t have to gauge when it’s safe to cross. That budget can equal the total budget for the rest of the 11-county district, he said, which shows how important it is for drivers in the region.

While the Owatonna-to-Dodge-Center realignment project is a big step forward, Dougherty said, it's not the last change we will see on the Highway 14 corridor. A study of the section from Kasson to Olmsted County Road 104 is being conducted to look at how to improve safety in that section of the road.

When will that get done? It could be a while, though Dougherty said pieces such as the dangerous intersection at County Road 104 might get done early.

Hopefully, this road that is well traveled will be more and more safe for drivers in the immediate future. And, honestly, Terry, the sooner, the better.

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