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|Paynesville Press - September 12, 2001|
Voters pick Highway 23 as second worst
State fairgoers have chosen Highway 23 - from Willmar to St. Cloud - as the second worst road in outstate Minnesota, according to a poll conducted by the Minnesota Highway Construction Industry Council (HCIC). |
Each year at the State Fair the HCIC holds its "Worst Roads Contest," with voters asked to identify the worst metro and nonmetro roads. This year, 5,659 fairgoers cast ballots, a 45 percent increase from a year ago.
"The record level of participation by fairgoers and the number of people willing to spend their time at our fair booth when so much else is taking place at Minnesota's great get-together proves we are not solving Minnesota's transportation crisis," claimed Dr. Jim Wafler, HCIC president.
The worst nonmetro road was U.S. 14, which runs from Rochester to South Dakota. Highway 23 was next, followed by U.S. 8 from Chisago City to Taylors Falls, U.S. 10 from Elk River to St. Cloud, Minnesota 316 from Hastings to U.S. 61, and U.S. 169 from Onamia to Grand Rapids.
The worst metro roads were identified as Interstate 35W and Minnesota 62 in south Minneapolis; Interstate 494 in the south metro; Interstate 694 in the northeast metro; Interstate 94 in the northwest metro; and U.S. 169 in the south metro.
"The interest in transportation issues continues to astound me," continued Wafler. "The public is way ahead of some of our lawmakers. It is only a matter of time before the governor, the Commissioner of Transportation, and certain members of our Legislature realize the seriousness of the problems we face when looking at the unmet needs of the transportation system."
Work started this summer on widening Highway 23 to four lanes from Interstate 94 to Richmond. This $50 million project will not be done until at least 2005.
Highway 23 from Willmar to New London is also scheduled to become a four-lane road. The Minnesota Department of Transportation hopes to start this $48-million project in 2003 and finish in 2004.
For the next two years, the traffic on Highway 23 through Paynesville will be studied to see what sort of improvements are needed here. Traffic counts will be done to see if four lanes are warranted here, and traffic patterns will be studied to see if a bypass of town is needed.
The local Highway 23 study should be done in July 2003. Actual road work in the Paynesville area would not be likely for at least a decade.
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