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You've got to hand it to officials at the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT)-- they just made another boneheaded decision about a busy highway near Rochester.

The intersections along the stretch of Highway 14 west of Rochester all the way to Byron have been the site of many dangerous crashes for quite a while. The intersection at CSAH 44 (formerly County Road 104) is particularly dangerous, as is the median crossing at 7th Street northwest.

Google Street View/Canva
Google Street View/Canva

I've been critical about the lack of previous planning from both Olmsted County officials as well as state officials at MnDOT regarding the state of these intersections. It seems to me they SHOULD have been able to project how BUSY both of those intersections would become years ago, and SHOULD have taken steps to make them safer back then.

As it stands now, there IS a plan to realign that CSAH 44 intersection and build a new, safer overpass. However, because our equally-inept state legislative leaders could not agree on how to spend the state budget surplus and adjourned their session back in May without an extra bonding bill, there is now no money to proceed with that plan. Another fail.

So what did MnDOT decide to do in the meantime? Well, according to this KTTC story, at a public meeting Thursday night, they announced that at the end of July, they're going to be closing the medians indefinitely at both the CSAH 44 intersection and at the 7th Street median crossing as well-- without any new plan in place for traffic that now uses those intersections.

Well done, MnDOT! I'm sure residents of the area and businesses near there (like Hawk and Sons, American Fence, Superior Mechanical, Glenn's Motor Coach Tours, Pomp's Tire Service, RDO Equipment, Veit Disposal and others) will really appreciate the fact that the main way to access their homes and businesses will soon be closed.

Simply closing those Highway-14 intersections now will only make traffic more congested in OTHER areas, like West Circle Drive, 19th Street, Valleyhigh Drive or the always-dangerous County Road 3 intersection with Highway-14 near Byron.

In the KTTC story, MnDOT said they're closing those intersections because it's a 'public safety issue.' Well, welcome to the party, MnDOT-- it's BEEN a 'public safety issue' for YEARS now, mainly because of your (and Olmsted County leaders') abject failure to come up with a fully-funded plan to improve those intersections.

Yes, of course, they're dangerous-- but it's your job to figure out a complete solution to the problem, which this definitely is NOT.

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