Environmental review planned for Highway 23 from New London to Paynesville
WILLMAR — Although there are currently no plans or money to complete the state Highway 23 four-lane project, an environmental study will be done now on a seven-mile stretch of the two-lane road between New London and Paynesville.
Completing the environmental review and layout will be a significant step in planning for improvements if funds become available in the future, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which announced plans Thursday to conduct the study.
Progress has been made in turning Highway 23 into a four-lane road between Willmar and St. Cloud, with two remaining segments still two lanes.
During a recent visit to Willmar, Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said there needs to be renewed energy to complete the four-lane project.
An environmental review is required before any construction can be done and it involves the evaluation of the social and environmental effects on the human and natural environment by transportation projects of this magnitude.
“Since an environmental review can take 18 months or longer, it’s important that the environmental phase is completed if construction funding becomes available in the future the project development will be ready to move forward,” said MnDOT’s Project Manager, Susann Karnowski, notes
Potential impacts and mitigations are identified for a range of alternatives in the study. Public involvement and interagency coordination are integral parts of the environmental review process and public feedback is considered and incorporated into the report.
Locally and regionally, Highway 23 serves as a major connection for the area’s residents and businesses.
MnDOT District 8, which has its headquarters in Willmar, recently completed a study titled “Manufacturer’s Perspectives on Transportation” in which 75 manufacturers and carriers in Southwest and West Central Minnesota were interviewed to determine their most important transportation issues.
Highway 23 was frequently mentioned as a critical connection to deliver goods to national and international markets. Highway 23 is classified as an Interregional Corridor and serves as an important freight route.