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Paynesville Press - February 1, 2006

City receives letter back from MnDOT

By Michael Jacobson

In response to their January letter to MnDOT District 8 (Willmar office) listing lingering concerns about speed, aethetics, and possible future changes by MnDOT to the proposed Highway 23 project in Paynesville, the Paynesville City Council received an answer last week.

MnDOT project manager Lowell Flaten, in a letter to the council sent Tuesday, Jan. 24, reiterated that the speed limit would be determined by a speed study based on how fast traffic drives on the new highway.

For safety reasons, the council had asked that the initial speed limit be set as low as possible.

The procedure to establish a speed limit, said Flaten, will be: (1) Construct the highway; (2) Set initial speed limits based on a review by MnDOT engineering staff; (3) Operated the highway at initial speeds for one to six months; (4) Conduct a speed study to determine the final speed limit.

It looks like the speed limit will be 65 mph, said councilor Jeff Bertram at the council meeting in response.

For aestetics, the city had asked that the construction budget include money for beautification. To which, Flaten replied that MnDOT would work with the city on aesthetics, while balancing this with the financial limitations of the project.

Lastly, the city had inquired about what kind of changes MnDOT could make to the project once municipal is given. Flaten answered that MnDOT is required to get municipal consent if it changes capacity (such as reducing from four lanes to two lanes), alters access (such as reducing either highway entrances or exits), or moves its location (that is changing the approximate right of way MnDOT will need to purchase).

MnDOT could make specific design details or changes in geometry that do not change capacity, alter access, or change location, wrote Flaten in conclusion.

*City officials were expected to attend the Area Transportation Partnership meeting in Willmar on Tuesday, Jan. 31, where MnDOT officials will seek funding for the Highway 23 project in Paynesville, as the Area Transportation Partnership ranks projects.

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