Editor's column - sharing more information about highways in and around Sleepy Eye.

I had a nice visit on the phone with MnDOT’s Robert Jones the other day. He is the project manager for all the various highway projects around Sleepy Eye. Of course we were talking about the impending removal of the stoplight downtown, but he also gave me some information about other projects.

When the resurfacing project on Highway 14 to Springfield was announced, another project was also announced—a bituminous mill and resurface of Highway 14 to New Ulm was also slated for this summer. Jones told me that the bidding process didn’t work out, so the project will be re-let in a few weeks with a plan to start the work next April.

That will be a tight schedule, as they hope to finish it up before they start working their way through Sleepy Eye on Main Street. Both the Highway 14 to New Ulm project and the Highway 14 through Sleepy Eye project will be done “under traffic” (fancy MnDOT term) or, in other words, one lane at a time so traffic will continue without detours. Jones said there will be a short detour out by the hotel and Casey’s as the city will be running some pipes under the highway at that time. He said, “The way New Ulm looks now . . . that’s what Sleepy Eye will look like next summer.” Yay, huh?

The other big project coming next summer is the construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Highway 4 and CSAH 29 north of Sleepy Eye. He said they are looking into detour routes now and that the detour will not be as long as the current one while they work on the Minnesota River bridge. That’s supposed to be done soon too, the bridge portion anyway.

So, back to our stoplight. Jones shared a letter of concern they’d received from a Sleepy Eye resident, and his response. It was mostly the same story—their experience with crosswalks like this have been successful. One thing did stand out to me, for those who are concerned about teaching their children how to cross Main Street. Jones said, “We will have educational flyers and are able to speak at the school as well to educate the classes.” Ask your school principal if they can schedule a school visit by someone from MnDOT to help teach the children how to safely cross that intersection.

New topic, way different. Did you see the news that premiums for health insurance purchased on Minnesota’s individual market might not increase much for 2018? Might even go down a little? I received a statement from the Governor about this. He did caution that we need the federal government to approve Minnesota's new Reinsurance Law, for that to happen.

Gov. Dayton said, “I applaud the Minnesota legislators, who worked together to pass this pioneering legislation, which is being shown to cause major reductions in the costs of health insurance next year for many thousands of Minnesotans.

“However, those reductions come at a very high cost to our state’s treasury, totaling $543 million over the next two years. We will be hard-pressed to continue to provide those subsidies alone. It is essential that the President and the US Congress act now to share this responsibility in the years ahead.”

Now, just to be a little flippant, that shouldn’t be so hard, right? Surely our President and Congress want to make health insurance affordable. Just think of how hard they’ve been working to fix the problems with Obamacare (facetious alert).

I acknowledge that Obamacare did not live up to expectations, but it did result in many more people receiving health insurance. Our leaders in Washington need to fix the problems and make it work. Letting the program implode, as the President urges, would only hurt the people who have gained health insurance.

The cost of health insurance isn’t the real problem. It goes up to cover the ever increasing costs for healthcare and prescription drugs. That’s what needs the most attention in this country.