DELANO, Minn. (KMSP) - Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith both agree the tragic accidents that have happened along the Highway 12 corridor cannot continue. Why both continue pushing hard this session to make significant and comprehensive investment in improving Minnesota roads, bridges, and enhancing their safety.
"The tragic accidents that have happened along this corridor cannot continue. That is why Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith have been pushing hard this session to make a significant and comprehensive investment in improving our roads and bridges, and enhancing safety on hour highways and interstates," said a statement from Gov. Dayton's press secretary, Matt Swenson. "With less than three weeks remaining in the legislative session, it is imperative that the Legislature act now on a comprehensive transportation bill.”
No one feels this more than West Metro residents who’ve lost loved ones to senseless crashes on the deadly corridor. Liz Squire lost her younger sister to a preventable crash on Highway 12 last August.
“If it were up to me I’d march right into the governor’s office and demand that he fix this tomorrow,” Squire said.
Squire’s sister, 25-year-old Chelsea Langhans, was struck head on and killed by a driver who crossed the center line on the two-lane stretch separated only by rumble strips.
“There’s nothing we can do to bring Chelsea back but at least we’re working with the coalition to make sure fewer people are going through what we went through.”
While Squire waits for changes that could prevent more fatal crashes on the 10-mile stretch of roadway from Wayzata to Delano, she makes it a point to attend every safety coalition meeting.
“It’s hard to realize things can’t just [quickly] be done to fix this – it’s a process.”
A process that supports at least three major repairs on Highway 12 for a wall down the center of the highway, a roundabout at County Road 90 and a total realignment and land acquisition at County Road 92. All of which is expected to cost $15 Million in state funding.
“It’s important to implement this as fast as possible,” Republican Dist. 33 A Representative Jerry Hertaus tells FOX 9.
Lawmaker support drives in hope for West Metro residents.
Those attending the Safety Coalition Meeting at Delano City Hall Thursday afternoon hope the $15 Million proposal, now apart of the transportation bonding bill, will be approved by the House and Senate by the end of this year’s legislative session.
“Maybe it’s a four laner? Maybe it’s a two lane with a median in the middle? Maybe it’s a two lane with a turning lane in the middle to separate traffic? There’s a lot of different options at the table,” says Republican District 33 Senator David Osmek of possible repairs to Highway 12.
Over the past five years Delano, Orono, Long Lake, Independence and Maple Plain residents have seen more than 811 crashes and now 24 deaths on what’s now considered the most dangerous two-lane highway in the State.
Yet, MNDOT representatives do not expect the proposed median, roundabout and realignment to be any sort of cure all.
“We’re still going to see a number of accidents, just different types of accidents,” said MNDOT West Area Manager John Griffith.
Even if lawmakers approve the proposal this year it we may not see major changes on Highway 12 for another two years.
Governor Dayton’s press secretary Matt Swenson tells FOX 9 MNDOT is however working on installing LED lights and interim left turn lanes at County Road 92 North and South. Swenson adds a center median is currently being designed and should be ready this year.