The State Legislature's failure to pass a bonding bill means $15 million in state funds was not allocated to make improvements to a dangerous stretch of Hwy. 12 in western Hennepin County.
That lack of action has not set too well with members of the Highway 12 Safety Coalition, which has organized a press conference at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Maple Plain Family Center in Maple Plain to renew their push for funding. Representative Jerry Hertaus (R) called the press conference.
In a letter expressing the coalition's disappointment, West Hennepin Public Safety Chief Gary Kroells wrote on Facebook Monday:
"Most of you woke up this morning and heard the horrible news the bonding bill was not passed by our legislature last night. As we all know this means no funding for safety improvements along Highway 12 in Hennepin County. I, along with you, am very disappointed and frustrated an agreement could not be reached to protect the lives of people traveling on Highway 12 each and every day.
The safety of people traveling on Highway 12 is a priority for our coalition and will continue to be our focus. Together we can make a difference and save lives. Funding is needed for MnDOT to move forward with safety improvements. Saving lives and reducing serious injury crashes should be the focus vs. traffic congestion.
Let’s hope another person doesn’t need to die on Highway 12 to get the funding needed to save lives. The safety audit is very clear.
A special session will need to be called by Governor Dayton."
The money, if approved, would be used to build a concrete median barrier to separate traffic on a 3½-mile stretch of Hwy. 12 through Wayzata and Orono, put a roundabout at County Road 90 and realign the intersection with County Road 92 in Independence.
Over the past five years, 23 people have been killed in crashes on the road. It has seen three wrecks resulting in death or serious injury for every 100,000 vehicle miles traveled, or nearly twice the rate of 1.57 wrecks on similar two-lane highways in the state, according to a 2015 safety audit conducted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.