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Paynesville Press - June 8, 2005

Draft EIS on Highway 23 published

By Michael Jacobson

The long-awaited, 100-page draft Environmental Impact Statement for Highway 23 in Paynesville was officially published on Friday, June 3, in the Federal Register and on Monday, June 6, in the EQB Monitor. Publication begins an official 45-day comment period on the study, which MnDOT plans to use - along with the study results - to determine the "preferred alternative," or future route, for Highway 23 in Paynesville.

draft Five alternatives are studied in the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): no build, improving the thru-town route, and three bypass routes (east, far west, and west). MnDOT and their consulting engineers at Edwards and Kelcey, though, have concluded that the document does not support choosing a "preferred alternative" yet, and all five of these alternatives are presented in the draft EIS.

Copies of the draft EIS are now available locally for public viewing at Paynesville City Hall and at the Paynesville Public Library. (These copies are available for on-site viewing only and are not available for check out.)

The 100-page draft EIS includes sections on the purpose and need for the project; on the alternatives (the five still-viable options plus routes dropped from consideration during the four-year study); and on the environmental consequences and mitigation measures. It also has tables, appendices, and maps.

MnDOT plans to use official comments - along with the information gathered in the draft EIS - to determine the "preferred alternative" later this summer, following the close of the official 45-day comment period on Monday, July 18.

The majority of public comments are expected at a public hearing on Tuesday, June 28. This event will start with an unofficial question-and-answer open house with MnDOT personnel and Edwards and Kelcey engineers. Discussions during the open house will not be recorded for the official record.

At 7 p.m., a formal presentation will be given about the draft EIS, to be followed by a public comment period. This official comment period is intended for public input, not to ask questions of MnDOT personnel or the consulting staff.

Also that night, a court reporter will be available to take one-on-one comments from people who do not wish to speak at the public hearing. And comment cards will be distributed. These can be returned by mail with comments.

The public will also be able to send written comments to: Lowell Flaten, MnDOT - District 8 Project Manager; 2505 Transportation Road; Willmar, MN 56201-0768. His fax number is 320-231-5168. His e-mail is

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