Council wants new highway intersection

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 6/21/00.

New development on the south side of Paynesville spurred the city to repeat its request to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) again to have the intersection of Highways 124, 55, and 181 redesigned.

It has been several years since the city talked to MnDOT about redesigning the intersection. In the past, MnDOT refused to make changes because the accident count did not indicate a change was needed.

The Paynesville Public Works department approached MnDOT this spring, asking if safety modifications couldn't be made at the same time the city upgraded the water and sewer lines under Highway 124 in 2002.

The Paynesville City Council approved a new design of the intersection Wednesday night.

"With the completion of the Spruce Street extension to County Road 181 more traffic will be entering County Road 181 and utilizing the intersection," said Ron Mergen, public works director.

The city met with MnDOT and the Stearns County Highway Department this spring. MnDOT outlined three options.

The first option set up a local initiative with the city where the city engineer would draw up the plans and MnDOT would pay two-thirds of the project to the county as a joint turn back.

The second option involved Stearns County taking over Highway 124 and being responsible for planning the project. The state would pay for the cost of the renovation as a state aid project.

In the third option, the state would keep Highway 124 and only resurface the highway. No new accesses would be allowed past County Road 34 to the south, and only minimal improvements would be made to the intersection.

The second option was approved by the council. As part of that option, the city would do the snow plowing and minor maintenance as required.

The proposal would eliminate the two entrance and exit ramps on the east side of Highway 124 and realign the present roadway with County Road 181.

Mergen does not know when the project will take place. It depends on funds from the state.

Mayor Jeff Thompson agreed the realignment was needed. Eliminating the odd legs and angles will improve safety a great deal, he said.

Mergen estimates the project will cost more than $600,000, all paid for by the state.

The proposed project still needs to be approved by the Stearns County Commissioners.

Speed zone reduction
A Paynesville Area School Board member approached the city and state about lowering speed limits on Highway 23 near the high school.

In a letter to the council, Gretchen O'Fallon, school board member, wrote about a marked increase in the number of students driving to school. In addition, several businesses have also built in the area, which complicates the problem with increased traffic activity, she felt.

According to MnDOT, the city can establish speed limits in a school zone only after an engineering and traffic study has been completed. The state said they could do a traffic study at a cost of $10,000.

It was suggested the area be resigned with more visible speed signs. Another option was to extend the no passing zone beyond the south school entrance.

The council directed the public works department and police department to work with the school to help alleviate the traffic problems in the area.

Sealcoat bids
This summer the city will be sealcoating the streets in the Chladek Addition, the city hall parking lot, and Hudson, Genesee, and Mill streets. The council received three sealcoat bids.

The low bidder was Morris Sealcoat with a bid of $23,688. However, the bid was not signed so the council awarded the bid to Caldwell Asphalt, Hawick. Their bid was $25,440, a difference of $1,760.

Mergen had estimated the project to cost $30,000.

Other business
•The council approved a refund of $1,894 to the Alldon Park Association. for services (snow plowing and street maintenance) they have paid for through taxes but never utilized since Alldon is a private development.

•The council approved a liquor and cigarette license for Tom and Doris Wendlandt, new owners of the Dog Haus. The license will start July 1 and be good until Dec. 31.

•The council accepted the resignations of Harriet Carlston and Denise Hanson from the transit committee. Appointed to replace them were Deb Nehowig and Gina Hemmesch.

•The council approved the final plat for Project 55, south of Highway 55.

•The council approved Leonard Davidson's request to rezone property on South Street from R1 to R2. Davidson plans to build two duplexes on the site.

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