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Paynesville Press - June 25, 2003

Day remains to comment on route choices for Highway 23

By Michael Jacobson

One day remains to comment about the decisions made by the Minnesota Department of Transportation so far in their study of Highway 23 in Paynesville.

Nearly two years into the regulated process used to select the best route for highways, MnDOT's consulting engineers, Edwards and Kelcey, have completed the scoping of routes, which looks at the alternatives and tries to pare them down to the best ones. These routes then will be studied in great detail during the Environmental Impact Statement, which will require over two dozen factors to be studied - from noise to economic impact - to determine the best future route.

Five options are identified in the scoping document for MnDOT to study in the Environmental Impact Statement: keeping the existing alignment through town without improvements; improving the existing alignment through town; and three bypass routes - south and east of town (east bypass), through the west end of town (west bypass), and around town to the north and west (far west bypass). Maps of these routes are available for viewing at city hall.

Eliminated in the scoping process were three bypass routes to the north of Paynesville. Other decisions are moving Highway 23 west of Paynesville to the ag fields to the north (running parallel to the new airport) for a bypass, routing the west bypass behind Alco and the American Legion and away from the schoool; and following Co. Rd. 33 east of town to rejoin the current highway for the west and far west bypass routes. According to MnDOT, these eliminated options could be readded if it can be justified to do so.

Comments about the scoping document can be made until Thursday, June 26, by writing to: Lowell Flaten, MnDOT District 8, 2505 Transport-ation Road, P.O. Box 768, Willmar, MN 56201-7068.

The Environmental Impact Statement - identifying the best route - should be completed in 2004.

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