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Paynesville Press - February 26, 2003

Minute with Mike

Analyzing the highway route options

By Michael Jacobson
Everyone knows that a picture is worth a thousand words, but a map can be, too.

Tomorrow night the city is hosting an informational meeting about Highway 23 at the Paynesville Area Center, starting at 7 p.m. At this meeting, large maps of the four routes under consideration for the future route of Highway 23 will be available. Since I can barely begin to describe these maps and since they are too detailed for reproduction in this newspaper, I urge everyone to attend and get a firsthand look.

Last week, I tried to show how failure to reach consensus can lead to failure in improving roads, using the nearsighted electoral politics of Papua New Guinea as an example. Paynesville, every resident should know, faces a similar dilemma: what should be the future route of Highway 23?

I know that there are lots of opinions about this issue. The divergent views expressed by the township board last week (see story on page 1) are but one example. Somehow this community must make a decision in this matter and then live with it.

It seems to me that the only way our community is going to get on the same page on the future route of Highway 23 is if we have a long, informed dialogue. Examining the maps for yourself is a good first step. When you do that, and as you think about what you see, I would like to remind everyone of some factors. A year ago, I conducted an opinion survey for the Paynesville Area Chamber of Commerce, trying to get a feel for opinions of Highway 23. That survey (which had 36 responses) was split on whether to bypass Paynesville or not, but it was done without knowledge of exactly how the road would look for each route option.

What is important though is that the survey respondents listed what they considered to be strengths and concerns of each route. I want to share them with the public again, so that they may be applied to the routes as now presented.

Remember, more strengths or concerns could be added. MnDOT will take into consideration engineering, environmental, and social factors for each route alternative.

I think that these are some important social factors, as listed by Chamber members one year ago.

Improve Existing Route


  • Keeps traffic through Paynesville.
  • Keeps highway exposure for downtown businesses and other businesses on Highway 23.
  • Improvements would help traffic flow.


  • What effects will the improvements entail for businesses and homes?
  • Will the loss of access cause local congestion to be worse? Will an improved highway divide the town?
  • How much parking will be lost?
  • Will it adequately handle thru traffic?

    East Bypass


  • Eliminates congestion in town.
  • Could be the shortest bypass.
  • Eliminates traffic by school.
  • City, and downtown, would still be visible from the highway.


  • Would traffic loss impact downtown?
  • Would it split the community by dividing the city of Paynesville from Lake Koronis?
  • Would it impact the golf course?
  • Would it impact the school property?
  • Would it intersect with the proposed trail from the city to the city beach?

    Far West Bypass


  • Truest bypass eliminates the most congestion in town and allows greatest speeds.
  • Eliminates traffic by the school.
  • More geographic room for city to expand.


  • Would traffic loss impact downtown?
  • Would this route affect business the most adversely?
  • Is it too far away from town?

    West Bypass


  • Eliminates congestion in town.
  • Keeps west side of town developing.
  • Possible commercial growth along new route.
  • Keeps highway close to town.


  • Would traffic loss impact downtown?
  • Would this route benefit some businesses and harm others?
  • Would congestion on the west side of Paynesville be alleviated?
  • Would this be safe for the school?

    This list is not exhaustive. One omission, in my mind, is what will be most convenient to residents, as this survey takes a decidedly commercial look at this issue.

    In giving this list again, I hope it can be used as a starting point for discussion. I fully expect that more issues will arise as we discuss this issue, but I think this list can help as you start to analyze each route.

    Do the routes, as now presented, play to these strengths and answer these concerns? Or not?

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