Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Thoughts & scenes along the Highway 14 detour October 5, 2016

TYPICALLY, ROAD CONSTRUCTION frustrates me. Unexpected delays and detours add to travel time and sometimes to distance.

U.S. Highway 14 under construction between Mankato and Nicollet.

U.S. Highway 14 under construction between Mankato and Nicollet, nearing the detour.

But I welcome at least one major road project in southern Minnesota—the expansion of U.S. Highway 14 between Mankato and Nicollet in to a four-lane. This stretch rates as one of the most dangerous roadways in rural Minnesota. Traffic volume along the narrow highway is high. Passing is mostly difficult and dangerous.

The improvements are needed to make this a safer highway. If only the expansion would run all the way to New Ulm.

On the detour route.

The detour route took us through Nicollet County farm land,aiming for Courtland.

Traveling to southwestern Minnesota last Saturday, my husband and I steered away from the Highway 14 project by taking Minnesota Highway 99 between St. Peter and Nicollet. Except this time 99 was closed before we reached Nicollet and we were rerouted onto the official Highway 14 detour route.










The detour added about 15 minutes to our drive time. But that was OK. I enjoy rural landscapes and passing places like Immanuel Lutheran Church and School, rural Courtland, the home congregation of my maternal ancestors.




As we rounded Nicollet County Road 25 near its intersection with Highway 14, a spectacular view of the Minnesota River Valley unfolded before us. Vast blue sky striped with grey clouds butted the distant tree line. I could see for miles and miles and miles. It is not the mountains. But, still, the scene wrote lines of poetry before my prairie native eyes.

TELL ME: What are your thoughts on road construction, detours and/or dangerous roadways?

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


10 Responses to “Thoughts & scenes along the Highway 14 detour”

  1. Almost Iowa Says:

    The detours aren’t so bad. What is troubling is the MNDOT policy of closing or reducing to one lane (same thing) all north-south roads on even numbered years and the same to all east-west running roads on odd numbered years.

    Because of this, most Minnesotans believe that MNDOT lacks a mechanism to plan road construction. This is not true, the planning board meticulously searches for and closes down any alternative route that might allow a traveler an unobstructed journey.

  2. Don Says:

    Detours are a necessary evil of road construction however, on the bright side they offer a glimpse of areas that we may not have taken the time to see! As long as the delayed time is not excessive I take it all in stride. But here in Alaska we have only 2 highways with which we can go from Fairbanks to Anchorage the preferred highway takes an average of 7 hours to drive while the second highway can take more than 10 hours. Add road construction into the equation with typical flagmen stopping cars for 1-3 hours at a time and the trip becomes an all day affair!

    Growing up in Mt. Lake I remember the number of people killed in head on collisions on highway 60 between Mt. Lake and Butterfield. There was one section that the road was straight but contained a small hidden dip in it just enough to hide a car for a brief period of time and unfortunately many people tried to pass there and ultimately ended up in a head on, sad. The locals knew of this problem and never attempted to pass there. For many years the city tried to get the state to fix it but it took over 20 years for the road to be redone into a 4 lane.

    • Those type of Alaskan detours would be a challenge. Stopping cars for 1 -3 hours at a time? That would not fly down here.

      I do remember sections of Hwy 60 in your home area being notoriously dangerous. So thankful the 4-lane was finally put in place.

  3. Jackie Says:

    I especially love these kind of detours…unless I’m running late of course.

  4. Ugh… I’ve traveled HWY 14 from SD into MN before. It’s a really pretty area. Lake Benton I believe

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