Minnesota is getting its first dedicated deer crossing, which should help keep motorists and animals who often cross Highway 14 in Dodge County safer.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation this past summer began major work on expanding 12.5 miles of Highway 14 between Dodge Center and Owatonna into a four-lane highway in an effort to improve safety and eliminate slowdowns.
And part of this $108 million project includes a special crossing for deer and other wildlife near Claremont in Dodge County. The goal is to help minimize crashes with animals along this stretch of Highway 14 when it opens to traffic in the fall of 2021 or early 2022.
MnDOT frequently modifies bridges and culverts to help wildlife, but this is the first structure designed primarily as a deer crossing in Minnesota, Mike Dougherty of MnDOT told Bring Me The News.
The crossing is a box culvert connection that's going under the four-lane highway that runs east to west. The culvert, which cost $219,000, is about 200 feet long, 10 feet tall and 9 feet wide and will run north to south.
"During the summer, deer generally are moving about in and around Rice Lake State Park and several wildlife management areas on the north side of the highway," Dougherty said. "In the winter, deer are in the wooded ravines of the Dodge Center Creek watershed. Highway 14 separates the two areas where they need to cross seasonally."
MnDOT partnered with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on this new wildlife crossing. DNR provided deer movement data and known migration routes, which led to MnDOT prioritizing this location for the wildlife underpass.
"It holds the potential to divert deer from crossing over the highway and choosing a path under, which, over time, can result in greater safety for motorists and wildlife," Dougherty said.
The new four-lane Highway 14 will have higher traffic speeds---65 mph compared to 55 mph---and is along a new route...