It's being described as an early Christmas present by area leaders.
The four-lane expansion of Highway 14 *west of North Mankato to Nicollet has been bumped up by state officials, with construction *now beginning in 2015.
Highway 14 from North Mankato to Nicollet was originally set for 2017-18, but has now been moved up to the 2015-16 construction season, and now includes a 2.5 mile bypass of Nicollet, also in 2015-16.
North Mankato Mayor Mark Dehen says, "This is really a great day for us to get this going. It will boost our economic activity in the Greater Mankato MSA."
The Nicollet bypass will improve safety at Highways 99 and 111, which MnDOT says are two especially accident-prone intersections, and whose dangers residents are well aware.
Larry Hewitt, a Nicollet businessman, says, "We've had a couple deaths here on the corner of 23/111. a couple years ago there was a lady killed in our ditch, got hit by a semi."
Rep. Clark Johnson (DFL - North Mankato) says, "It effects a lot of people. I could tell you story after story of people I've encountered who have said, 'please, for my niece, for my daughter, please fix that road.' This is a step toward that. You really have to live around here to really get a sense of how deeply that is felt by everyone."
Along with the Highway 14 projects, Governor Dayton and the Department of Transportation announced today that ten highway construction projects will receive funding through the state's new $300 million 'Corridors of Commerce' program.
Of course, there still is one more piece to the puzzle before the long fight of the Highway 14 Partnership is over.
Hewitt says, "It's definitely needed. I think it's needed even more between here and New Ulm."