Nelson secures funding for Highway 14/44, other local projects
Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) announced today that she successfully secured funding for a number of critical infrastructure projects in Olmsted and Dodge Counties, including funding to begin the process of constructing a new interchange at Highway 14/44 interchange, for Kasson flood mitigation, the Rochester International Airport, the Dodge County transfer station, the Olmsted County Material Recovery Facility, the Willow Creek Trail, Rochester Community and Technical College, Rochester Park and Ride improvements, Graham Park, the Forestry Operations Center, the Wasioja Civil Seminary, and SPARK Children’s Museum.
“I am rejoicing for the partial funding for the Highway 14/44 interchange,” Nelson said. “We had already completed the study, and this funding is a critical step to finally move us beyond the design phase and get this project off the ground. Obviously, we still need more, and I’ll continue to advocate for this project and work to secure additional funding through Corridors of Commerce and federal funding until we can get it done. It will happen.”
“I am also grateful that we were able to successfully fund so many other critical infrastructure projects for our region,” Nelson added. “These improvements are crucial for the safety and well-being of our residents in Olmsted County. By investing in our infrastructure, we are ensuring a more connected and prosperous community for years to come.”
HIGHWAY 14/44 INTERCHANGE
$5 million to construct a new Highway 14/44 interchange. This interchange is known as one of the most dangerous intersections in southeast Minnesota. Currently, the intersection is at a skewed angle and sees 30,000 vehicles per day traveling at a high rate of speed, with morning commute conditions known to be especially risky. Earlier this year, MnDOT closed down the turn lanes at the intersection because it became so dangerous.
KASSON FLOOD MITIGATION
$5 million for the replacement and renovation of sanitary sewer and stormwater infrastructure and systems, a water main, and roadway restoration. The project calls for the construction of a stormwater impoundment upstream of Highway 14 to prevent flooding during large rain events and lower the 100-year flood elevation by approximately 2 feet throughout the city; replace City infrastructure in the hardest hit portions of the City; improve resistance to flooding; and reduce sanitary sewer backups in homes.
Flooding near and above the 100-year flood elevation has occurred in Kasson four times in the last 15 years — 2007, 2010, and twice in 2019. These events caused significant damage to city infrastructure and private property and have caused major economic impacts.
RST International Airport bond extension
The bill authorizes the bond sale extension to 2028 for Rochester International Airport (RST) runway and improvements. RST handles the second-largest volume of passengers in Minnesota and is served by the three legacy air carriers, but existing runway pavements were nearing the end of their useful lives and require reconstruction to allow for continued access to the Rochester community and world-class health care by air.
DODGE COUNTY SOLID WASTE TRANSFER STATION
The bill provides $2.1 million for Dodge County to construct a new solid waste transfer station. Currently, licensed haulers bring municipal solid waste (MSW) and recycling to a building that is at its limit and is unable to handle an expansion. In 2021, Dodge County took in roughly 10,000 tons of MSW and 2,000 tons of single-stream recycling, and those numbers increase about 6% annually.
OLMSTED COUNTY MATERIALS RECOVERY FACILITY
The bill authorizes $10 million for Olmsted County to construct a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) adjoining the Olmsted County Waste-to-Energy Facility (OWEF), which would allow the region to use waste as a resource for a safe, healthy, and sustainable community. The MRF would remove recoverable and noncombustible materials from the waste stream, improve efficiency, and delay the need for the OWEF to be expanded. Currently, there are no materials recovery facilities operating in southeastern Minnesota.
WILLOW CREEK TRAIL
The bill provides $1.875 million for the Willow Creek Trail. The project, which has been in the works since the late 1990s, would create a crossing under Highway 52 to connect the path and trail network in Willow Creek to the larger city network of more than 100 miles of trails.
ROCHESTER COMMUNITY AND TECHNICAL COLLEGE
$1.347 for Rochester Community and Technical College to design a renovation of the Heintz Career and Technical Education Center with places for students to study, collaborate, and create a sense of community currently lacking in the current building. The project will improve ventilation, exhaust, sound control, and working clearances that prioritize student and faculty health and wellness, including a roof replacement, HVAC improvements, and central chiller plant upgrades.
ROCHESTER PARK AND RIDE
$800,000 to the city of Rochester to design an expansion of the community’s park-and-ride assets with the construction of a 200-stall parking deck on municipal property along Broadway Avenue N (formerly US HWY 63 that was turned back to the city). This critical funding will help to provide greater opportunities for workers and visitors to travel to downtown Rochester by bus, eliminating vehicle miles traveled. The project also aligns with the City’s adopted goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2025 and an 80% reduction by 2050. The proposed transit parking deck will make bus use a more attractive transportation option.
OLMSTED COUNTY — GRAHAM PARK
The agreement includes $8 million for the Graham Park redevelopment in Olmsted County. Graham Park has been an asset for agriculture, community events, entertainment and youth athletics in southeast Minnesota for more than 100 years. This funding will allow for the construction of an exhibition center and a farmers market pavilion to continue serving community needs year-round. The project, which would allow Graham Park facilities to be used 200 more days out of the year, is expected to be an economic benefit of as much as $13.7 million every year.
REGIONAL PARKS FORESTRY OPERATIONS CENTER
$14 million to the city of Rochester for a Regional Parks Forestry Operations Center. This project would provide updated, accessible, centralized space for parks and forestry services that serves the regional parks system. The current parks and forestry operations center does not have adequate space for the full-time and seasonal employees that operate from the facility. The current facility has only one entrance/ exit that is shared with the baseball field and visitor parking to access maintenance vehicles. Limited options currently exist for injury-prevention exercises and there is only one locker room, which is also located as the main thoroughfare into the garage bays.
WASIOJA CIVIL SEMINARY
$2.1 million will be appropriated for the Wasioja Civil Seminary ruins. These ruins are part of a historic district and one of the only locations with a direct connection to Minnesota’s involvement in the Civil War. The ruins serve as a reminder of the sacrifices made by Minnesota’s pioneers and the losses our communities, our state, and our country incurred.
SPARK CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
The bill provides $200,000 for the SPARK Children’s Museum in Rochester to increase access and engagement for diverse audiences through museum programs and exhibits that promote Minnesota arts, culture, and history.
SPARK’s mission is to enrich the lives of young learners by creating shared, interactive experiences that engage people of all ages. The program offers 756 programs surrounding health and wellness, physical development, and literacy and drama, as well as culture, community, science, and art. The museum has experienced 87% admission growth and 1600% growth in free and reduced admission between 2021 and 2022.