Time to make Highway 14 a priority

To the editor:

Not in my lifetime

I’m hearing this far too many times when talking with New Ulm Chamber members and the topic of Highway 14 comes up. I’ve heard stories of horrific accidents taking lives, changing the lives of family members and causing lingering physical issues. I’ve heard of transportation-related businesses expanding in other communities because they need access to four-lane roads. I’ve heard of the economy’s effect on businesses causing every expense to be analyzed to the penny including the cost of diesel fuel, the better mileage on four-lane roads than on two-lane for trucks, and the competitive advantage of businesses that are on four-lane roads.

Before you think this only affects the truckers in town, please read on. Think of how many trucks come in and out of New Ulm for our biggest employers like AMPI, Kraft and 3M. The ability to move product quickly and efficiently affects their bottom line, which affects jobs. Think of how many trucks bring blank pens and mugs in to Beacon Promotions and then take the finished product out again to customers. How many milk trucks come into AMPI and how many trucks loaded with butter head out? How many times have you heard the helicopter over town heading to the emergency room at New Ulm Medical Center and thought “Highway 14 has struck again.” Think of how many students use Highway14 commuting to Martin Luther College, Minnesota Valley Luther High School, Minnesota State University – Mankato and other educational institutions. Think of the many employees that make the commute from Mankato to New Ulm daily and vice versa.

Will the Highway 14 expansion to four-lanes solve all of our problems? No, of course not. But New Ulm is the only town of our size that does not connect to a four-lane road and how can we compete if we don’t have the right equipment? There is much progress happening in New Ulm these days – think of what the impact could be to our businesses and manufacturing if Highway 14 was expanded to four-lane.

I’ve heard the Highway 14 Partnership is doing everything right in their strategy at the legislature, but I’m not hearing that Highway 14 is a priority. Please continue to tell your stories to the elected officials in St. Paul.

Audra Shaneman

President & CEO

New Ulm Area

Chamber of Commerce

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