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Work starts to widen U.S. 14 west of Dodge Center

Dan Paukert, of Claremont, studies one of the U.S. 14 maps available during a Minnesota Department of Transportation open house on Tuesday. Paukert was concerned how the proposed highway route might affect private property.

OWATONNA — About 50 people attended a Minnesota Department of Transportation open house Tuesday afternoon to hear details about the widening of U.S. Highway 14 from two to four lanes between Owatonna and Dodge Center.

The project has been divided into three segments, explained Project Manager Heather Lukes, and the first phase of the work has already begun.

Those who drove in from the east to attend the open house had to detour around part of the initial $12 million phase; the part of the project that will widen the highway for 2.6 miles between Minnesota Highway 218 and 54th Ave.

This part of the highway is being expanded within the highway's right-of-way.

It's always easier when you're expanding a road along the same route, said Claremont Township resident Lloyd Wobbock, who served on the task force that helped plan the four-lane expansion of U.S. 14 from Dodge Center to Kasson more than 10 years ago.


Segment two of the new project lies between 54th Ave and Dodge County Road 16 and includes 3.6 miles of highway.

Segment three is the most costly and largest part of the project and includes 8.9 miles of construction along a completely new route. That part of the highway will run on the south side of Claremont through some Dodge County farmers' fields.Two properties have already been purchased by MnDOT for that route.

Although funding is not yet available for the completion of segments two and three, pre-construction activities are ongoing.

Jill Mickelson, of engineering firm Braun Intertec, explained that one of the next tasks is to take soil samples along the proposed route. Representatives from Braun will take core samples every 200 feet along the route in a zig zag pattern, from one proposed lane to the other. The deepest core drilled would be about 10 feet. The company will try to complete this work in the fall after crops are in. They can work when the ground is frozen, but deep snow slows the process down.In the spring, mud is also a deterrent.

Other activities include gathering detailed information on farm tile locations and buried utilities. Design standards for culverts and ponds have changed, so updated plans will be needed for water handling.

Information on future right-of-way acquisitions is being collected.

For years, local government leaders have called for the highway to be widened to four lanes from Owatonna to Dodge Center. The entire project has been estimated to cost $205 million by local officials.

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