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Paynesville Press - March 26, 2003

Reconstruction of Lake Avenue to start soon

By Michael Jacobson & Jennifer E. Johnson

Construction on Lake Avenue, also known as Highway 124, should begin as soon as road restrictions are lifted this spring, most likely by mid-April.

The project - originally scheduled for last summer but delayed until this year - has already been bid, and the contractors should be ready as soon as the weather permits.

Highway 124 construction map Drivers in Paynesville should expect some detours this spring and summer as the work on the road is completed. Lake Avenue will be reconstructed, and its south intersection with Highway 55 will be reconfigured. (See map)

When Highway 124 (Lake Avenue) is rebuilt later this summer, the intersection with Highway 55 will be altered. The existing ramps will be eliminated and the intersection will be made perpendicular with Highway 55, straight across from Co. Rd. 181. Construction is expected to start in August.

The city of Paynesville will take the opportunity to redo the street and water lines as well as address stormwater runoff, including building a stormwater retention pond. Residents along the road should be able to access their homes but may be inconvenienced at times. At a public meeting about the project last week at Paynesville City Hall, Stearns County Engineer Mitch Anderson said residents and businesses will have "reasonable access," which means emergency vehicles could get through if needed and that they would be able to get in and out most of the time.

The road will be closed to through traffic once construction begins, said Anderson. Highways 23 and 55 will be used as detours for through traffic once construction starts, bringing traffic all the way to the the intersection of 23 and 55 on the west end of town.

A main route to the Paynesville Area Health Care System (PAHCS) uses Lake Avenue. Two detours - with temporary signage - will direct traffic to PAHCS. From Highway 55, traffic to PAHCS will be directed north on Maple Street, east on Mill Street, and then south on Stearns Avenue past the elementary school. From Highway 23, traffic to PAHCS will be directed south on Stearns Avenue.

Local residents who use Co. Rd. 34 will also be affected by the construction, as they may not be able to cross Lake Avenue once they get to town. An alternate route for these residents east of town will be to take 283rd Avenue to Highway 55 and then into town. Residents on South Street should be able to access their homes by taking either Pomeroy Avenue or Maywood Avenue, the new city street built last summer.

At the public hearing last week, Father Richard Leisen of St. Louis Catholic Church asked if they would need to notify the city in advance for funerals to insure access to the Catholic Cemetery, which is located on the east side of Lake Avenue. Anderson said he was sure that the contractors would work around any funerals.

Anderson also said that he did not expect school traffic to be affected by the construction. By the time the work gets to Mill Street, school should be almost out, he said.

Anderson also addressed dust control at the meeting. In the heat of the summer, this gets tough to avoid, he said, but the county plans to minimize the dust and will water the road if it becomes a safety hazard.

All excess dirt, from the new stormwater pond, will be hauled to the airport. Anderson estimated 1,000-1,200 loads will be taken to the airport.

John Frandson, a resident on Lake Avenue, wondered about the trees and landscaping and if property owners would be consulted about the changes.

Paynesville Public Works Director Ron Mergen said they will need to go onsite and see. The city has a tree program, and many trees are still available to the public.

In addition to the city utilities, Xcel Energy, Minnegasco, and Lakedale Telephone all will be working with the contractor, said Anderson. Property owners will be notified by the individual companies for any disruptions.

To offset disruptions in water service, a temporary basin will be used to connect affected homes when city water is cut.

The project should take 55 working days, or until August, to complete. The county plans to pave the road, allow it to freeze and settle through the winter, and then put down a final layer of pavement in 2004.

The state - which is paying for most of the reconstruction - has turned Highway 124 back to the county. Once the project is done, the county will resign the street to call it by its new name, Co. Rd. 66, though the city street designations will still call it Lake Avenue.

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