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Paynesville Press - February 26, 2003

Supervisors discuss bypass routes for highway

By Michael Jacobson

A preliminary discussion of Highway 23 by the Paynesville Township Board of Supervisors offered no consensus on the best bypass route. (see Paynesville Township meeting minutes here)

Board chairman Don Pietsch raised the issue of Highway 23 at the board's monthly meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 18, out of concern that the current board had not taken an official position nor discussed the matter formally as of yet.

The city of Paynesville, according to Pietsch, needs to decide if keeping the highway should be kept through town or not. The township, though, should get involved if a bypass is needed, he said.

"If they decide to go outside of town, I'd like to think we become a player," he explained.

Pietsch proceeded to state his preference for the east bypass - the route that would come by the golf course, cross Co. Rd. 181, Highway 55, and Co. Rd. 34, and reconnect with the existing route of the highway near the railroad bridge.

The biggest concern for this route is that it would divide the city of Paynesville from Lake Koronis, but Pietsch noted that under the current designs township residents around the lake would be able to take NW Koronis Road, Co. Rd. 181, Highway 55, and Co. Rd. 34 directly into town without stopping.

This bypass, therefore according to Pietsch, would give the greatest access to a four-lane highway for the bulk of the township residents, since the southern half of the township (with Lake Koronis and part of Rice Lake) is more populated than the northern half (which is more agricultural).

Supervisor Pat Meagher, though, prefers the far west bypass. Congestion on Friday nights already indicates a need for a bypass, said Meagher.

He said that tearing up the city does not sound like a good option at all. "Everything (both improving the existing route and the west and east bypass routes) we're talking about except the far west is basically going through town," he said.

The far west bypass would get the traffic out of town and allow things to grow to the new highway, he said. This way, residents won't have to cross the four-lane highway to get to town.

The far west bypass is scheduled to have an intersection with Lake Avenue near the substation just north of downtown. This would only be a couple blocks from downtown, noted Meagher.

The far west bypass is not comparable to Rockville, he added, since Paynesville has many more businesses.

Supervisor John Atwood did not have as strong a preference as either Pietsch or Meagher. He said repeatedly that the current study should determine the best route. When pressed, though, he stated that he liked the west bypass.

If the current route is kept or if the east or west bypass is chosen, Pietsch stressed that the township should back moving the road slightly to the north from the Kandiyohi County line to Paynesville, since adding two lanes in the existing corridor would mean the elimination of a number of houses along Highway 23. This also includes some prime development land in the township, he said.

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