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Paynesville Press - July 30, 2003

Construction of four-way stop to start in August

By Michael Jacobson

A four-way stop - with a flashing overhead red light - should be installed at the intersection of Highways 23 and 55 in Paynesville by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) in August.

The project - originally scheduled for September 2002 - was bid in early June, with the low bid of $32,177 being accepted in early July.

Construction materials were ordered after the bid was awarded and the materials will not be available until mid-August, when work should start.

The project should take five to ten working days, according to Mickey Klassen, a construction engineer with MnDOT. Most of the work will take place in the road ditches, minimizing impact on traffic, said Klassen. No detour will be needed.P> Stop signs (with red flashing lights) will be installed both on Highway 55 and on Highway 23. In addition, an overhead flashing light will be hung over the intersection.

The four-way stop should be completed and in operation by the time school starts in September, said Klassen.P> Following numerous concerns about the safety of this intersection, MnDOT conducted a study about it in July 2002. Due to a high rate of accidents at the intersection, the study indicated that improvements were justified.

But - due to the skewed angles of the two highways, as well as the limited visibility due to the Crow River and the curves in Highway 23 - that study also determined that a four-way stop was a better (and cheaper) safety solution rather than a stoplight at the intersection. The cost of installing a four-way stop was estimated at $40,000, while installing a stoplight typically costs around $180,000, according to MnDOT.

MnDOT is conducting a separate study of the future route of Highway 23 through or around Paynesville. The four-way stop should improve safety at the intersection in the meantime.

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