Lawmakers push for construction on Hwy 169

By KBJR News 1

July 2, 2014 Updated Jul 2, 2014 at 10:19 PM CDT

Soudan, MN (NNCNOW.com) -- The twists and turns on Highway 169 through the Iron Range has caused many problems for motorists over the years and in some cases even fatal.

"Every curve they would say, well this person died, and this person's kid died and this person's wife died, and it really gives you a sense of the danger that has been there for a long time," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who took a tour of the highway on Wednesday. It was not the Senator's first time on road.

She remembers the dangers of driving on the road from her childhood, especially during the winter months.

"I remember the ice and I remember being scared and my mom saying to my dad watch out," said Sen. Klobuchar.

Congressman Rick Nolan also toured the highway on Wednesday.
The plan to reroute the highway to flatter ground has hit many roadblocks and the lawmakers want to see the project move forward.

"I want to see it fixed I want to see it fixed soon and I want to see the southerly route along 169, that's the straightest that's the safest, that's the way to do it," said Rep. Nolan.

Bill Erzar, who has been working on the project for more than a decade, would also like to see the highway relocated to a more southerly route which would mean building a new road up on a ridge out of shaded black ice areas.

Project leaders are working with the state and federal government agencies to clear up red tape and finish processing environmental reviews. One agency that has been holding up the project is the Federal Highway Administration.

"We have gotten them to move on some other projects that have been delayed across the state and that is what we will be asking them to do," said Sen. Klobuchar.

Lawmakers say the project is expected to cost between $16 and $19 million.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.