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Paynesville Press - July 20, 2005, rerun 11.9.05

City council's letter to MnDOT

The Paynesville City Council unanimously approved this offical comment to MnDOT, backing the west alternative, on Wednesday, July 13, 2005, The comment was a key reason that MnDOT chose the west route as the "preferred alternative" in Spetember.

The Paynesville City Council unanimously supports the "West Alignment Alternative" for Trunk Highway 23. The following outlines the council's justification for supporting the west alternative.

In respect to the "Far West Alignment Alternative," the city council has several major concerns. Its distance from the city is a detriment to the existing commercial, retail, and service businesses. Commuters and people simple traveling through Paynesville do patronize our businesses and bypassing the city so far out would jeopardize those business opportunities.

In addition, the distance will have a cost impact on the city when it extends its water and sanitary sewer services. It is anticipated upon completion of the new four-lane highway that businesses will begin to develop along the highway, and the city may have to invest large sums of money to extend those services.

Lastly, the far west alignment alternative currently does not meet the constitutional highway requirement (abutting or transversing the city), and the city council is not willing to waive that requirement.

In respect to the "Through Town Alternative," the city council also has several major concerns. Foremost would be the loss of tax base through the displacement of 30 to 40 homes and businesses. Relocating the main building of the local telephone and video service company would certainly be a major and expensive undertaking.

Another great concern would be expanding the highway from a two to a four-lane through the heart of the city, splitting the downtown and Industrial Park from the residential part of the city, which includes the schools, hospital, churches, parks, etc. Also, based on the projected traffic volume increases, air and noise pollution levels are certain to increase, which would have a negative impact on the quality of life in Paynesville.

Safety would be a concern, too. Pedestrians walking to and from downtown, churches, schools, etc., would experience difficulties in crossing the four lanes, especially at intersections where stop lights will not exist. Even now, with just a two-lane highway and existing traffic levels, it is difficult for some to cross, especially for the elderly, young children, and disabled persons.

The "East Alignment Alternative" does serve the city better than the alternatives discussed above. However, it does split the city from Paynesville Township, which represents a large part of the city's retail base and contributes greatly to the city's economic vitality.

Furthermore, it cuts through the heart of what has been determined to be a prime residential growth area, as outlined in the city's comprehensive plan.

The east alternative also negatively impacts the Lake Koronis Recreation Trail. A federal TEA-21 grant has been awarded with construction scheduled for 2006 for a segment of trail that will extend from the city to the existing trail on Old Lake Road in Paynesville Township. The east alternative will directly impact the planned trail route.

The "No Build Alternative" presents many of the same problems as the through town alternative. The increased traffic will certainly create a lot of congestion, and traffic flow through the city will be slow. Safety for drivers and pedestrians alike will be a concern.

The "West Alignment Alternative," compared to the other alternatives, has the least problems and offers the most compromises. It would abut the existing city limits and would not split the city. In addition, the cost of extending water and sanitary sewer services to new developments along the highway will be more feasible. The west alternative will better serve the city's existing commercial, retail, and service businesses, as well as our industry.

The city council recommends that when planning the west alignment alternative the Lake Koronis Recreational Trail, to be developed along Cemetery Road, be taken into consideration. The city and township have secured funding assistance through the 2005 Minnesota bonding bill with construction planned for 2006.

In addition, with the construction of the west alternative, it is recommended that Lake Avenue be upgraded from a five- to a nine-ton roadway. Given its proximity to the city's Industrial Park, Lake Avenue is very likely to become a primary route for trucks going to and from the Industrial Park.

Your consideration is appreciated.

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