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Final plans for bypass in Paynesville debated by City Council

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Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

PAYNESVILLE -- The Paynesville City Council held a public hearing Wednesday to discuss the final design plans for the Minnesota Highway 23 bypass.

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As he displayed an overfilled accordion file stuffed with paperwork relating to the project, Mayor Jeff Thompson said that he discovered an agenda from the first meeting held to discuss the project. It was dated 1995.

Since then, plans for the bypass have undergone many changes and delays.

"This thing has been going on for quite some time," Thompson said in a Wednesday afternoon phone interview.

"There hasn't been a lot of, you know, hostility. ... But people just want to have a resolution to this so the community can move on with planning and growth and development."

Attendees voiced few concerns during Wednesday's hearing. Once issue, however, was directed toward the Minnesota Department of Transportation and its plans to minimize increased noise levels that would be created by the four-lane bypass that stretches four miles around the city.

Lowell Flaten, an engineer with MnDOT's District 8 office in Willmar, said noise pollution studies were completed for the areas that would be affected by the bypass to determine if a sound wall would be required. He said MnDOT determined a sound wall would be a financially feasible option.

The bypass would detour Paynesville on its west and north sides. It would begin near Kandiyohi County Road 33, veering north of Highway 23. The bypass would run parallel with Highway 23 and cross the existing runway at the Paynesville Municipal Airport. It would then continue north, crossing state Highway 55 and the Canadian Pacific Railroad tracks to 185th Street.

From there, the bypass would run east on the south side of 185th Street. The bypass would also cross Stearns County Road 33, merging with Minnesota Highway 2, just northeast of downtown.

Major interchanges leading into Paynesville would be constructed at crossings over First Street South and Highway 55. Flaten said an interchange at Lake Avenue North could also be added in the future.

The city of Paynesville received final design plans for the bypass in March. The City Council then had 60 days to schedule a public hearing to grant municipal consent for the proposal. Constituents now have until July 9 to raise any concerns.

At that time, the City Council will take action.

If consent is granted, Flaten said the bypass could be completed by fall 2011.

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