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Congressman Phillips pledges help for 'Corridor of Death'

Updated: November 07, 2019 06:56 PM

Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips said his tour of a deadly stretch of Highway 12 that runs through the western part of his district was an eye-opening experience. He went on a ride-along with West Hennepin Police Chief Gary Kroells to see firsthand why so many fatalities have happened on the stretch of highway from Wayzata to Delano.

"The chief has been on the scene of a number of the fatalities on this Highway 12 corridor for some years," Phillips said after the one-hour tour. "He knows the names of the victims by heart and it really humanized it today because they're not statistics anymore. And I saw firsthand the deficiencies that are costing lives."

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Between 2011 and 2016, there were 24 deaths and 239 injuries from a total of 811 crashes along an eight-mile stretch of the highway. A safety barrier between the two lanes for a three-mile stretch dropped the number of deaths in crossover crashes to zero. Another two miles of barriers will be added starting in 2021.

But Chief Kroells said more needs to be done.

"I think we need a long-term corridor study and design of the area between lets say Maple Plain and just west of Delano to determine the future of that area," Kroells said. Ideally, the highway would be expanded to four lanes all the way to Delano, but that would be very expensive.

Phillips said he'll do what he can to secure federal funding to help out.

"We shouldn't have a corridor nicknamed the 'Corridor of Death,'" Phillips said. "And if we do, we've gotta do something about it."

He said he'll work with Republican Congressman Tom Emmer to see what federal funding is available. Highway 12 also runs through Emmer's district and his hometown of Delano.

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Tom Hauser

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