Let’s remember the real warriors in the Hwy. 14 expansion
Over the past few weeks we have written several stories, editorials and columns about the Hwy. 14 expansion between Owatonna and Dodge Center finally getting underway after decades of political fighting to find the funding.
At the groundbreaking a couple weeks ago most of the ceremony seemed to center on area politicians whooping it up and taking credit for finally getting the bill passed. One senator flashed his own personalized license plate “Hwy 14” to the crowd while others passed around the champagne bottles with a “Hwy 14” sticker attached to them.
Much of our coverage has centered on politicians taking all the credit for the expansion. It truly was a big celebration and well deserved. And, yes they deserve kudos, but…
While I’m not here to take anything away from what the lawmakers accomplished, I can’t help but think about the families that have been affected by the horror and grief caused by Hwy. 14 over the years. In amongst the celebrations by the lawmakers, I think the victims are kind of minimized and perhaps even at times forgotten about.
The troubled Hwy. 14 roadway is, for obvious reasons, a very emotional issue for many people. Beth Hodgman of West Concord is one of them. She lost her husband, Scott, in a crash in 2012.
It may be seven years ago since the crash claimed the life of the popular Dodge County businessman, but the pain is still real. After the groundbreaking, I exchanged a hug with Beth as our paths have crossed numerous times over the years in an effort to get people to understand what’s at stake with a roadway that has become known as the “Highway of Horrors.”
She acknowledged super excitement over the latest developments with Hwy. 14, but it doesn’t come without great pain. “It’s exciting, it’s emotional, it’s been hard,” she said fighting back tears. “Scott’s death can’t be for nothing.”
As the Hwy. 14 project picks up steam and machines begin moving dirt over the next year, I hope people will never the hurt folks like Beth Hodgman continue to deal with on a daily basis. Survivors of Hwy. 14 crash victims are dealing with a lifetime sentence of heartache and incredible pain.
Hwy. 14 is getting taken care of because of fighters like Beth, not lawmakers seeking re-election every two or six years. Beth and others who achieve no political gain from this are the real heroes in the Hwy. 14 expansion. I may step out on a limb with this, but I don’t think Hwy. 14 would have ever gotten done if it wasn’t for Beth. She spent endless hours battling at the State Capitol.
As she reminded me on the day of the groundbreaking, she had a story and it was real. Losing a loved one is the ultimate price one can pay.
Don’t let the politicians fool you. They may know the strings to pull to get things done, but in the end it got accomplished because of survivors like Beth Hodgman. And for that we all need to be forever grateful.
I’m sorry that Beth and so many others are living a nightmare every day. It’s my hope, however, that you can take a little comfort in knowing your loss will help so many other people for decades to come.
There is no question that expanding Hwy. 14 will go in hot pursuit of saving lives.