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Rochester senator, MnDOT working to improve frequent crash intersections on Highway 14

NEAR ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- Yet another crash at a busy intersection along Highway 14 slowed traffic for a period of time Friday afternoon.

The accident happened shortly after 2 p.m. at the intersection of Highway 14 and County Road 104. At least three vehicles were involved in the crash but there is no word yet about injuries.

This intersection has been a hot spot for collisions, but local lawmakers and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) are working to make the intersection safer.

"It's a very accident prone and dangerous intersection that we're working really hard to get something done with it," said Rochester Republican Senator David Senjem. "And we're making some progress."

Friday's crash supports the idea that additional safety measures are needed at the intersection.

According to MnDOT, from 2015 through part of 2020, there were a total of 45 crashes at the intersection. One crash was fatal, one had serious injuries, six had minor injuries, 10 had possible injuries, and 28 had property damage only. 2019 had the most with a total of 15.

And while the progress for a long-term solution is still in the very early stages, MnDOT does have a short term plan for helping troublesome intersections along Highway 14 between Rochester and Kasson.

"And it would mainly be adjusting things in the median," said Mike Dougherty with MnDOT District 6. "Either closing a median or making an RCI, reduced conflict intersection, or a modified one."

MnDOT says construction is set to begin in the summer of 2022 and would cost roughly $1 million.

That long term plan for the intersection at County Road 104 is to build a new interchange, but funding for such a large project is not available yet.

"It's going to have to move the county road," Dougherty said. "Not only do you have to get over the highway, you have to get over the railroads. Something to like West Circle Drive. It probably won't be as wide and multi-faceted probably, but it has all those challenges of that geography there so that creates more cost for it."

It's one of three intersections along the highway between Rochester and Byron being looked at for improvement.

"We were able to get $2 million for doing engineering studies related to what we call pre-engineering and environmental studies on that interchange," Senjem said. "And that will then prepare it and position it to be considered for a highway funding project down the road so to speak."

Senjem is hoping the funding from the long term solution interchange will be available in the next two to three years with construction following shortly behind.

The interchange project is said to come with a potential price tag of upwards of $40 million.

Sarah Gannon

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