Letter: Road project is not needed
Regarding the proposal to construct new County Highway 9 northeast of Willmar, $1.5 million will be spent to reconstruct 1.5 miles of County 26, adding a bike trail. A beautiful trail already exists half a mile from County Road 9/26 intersection.
Allegedly two hills to the east decrease trail visibility. There are no recorded accidents at the trail crossing. I suggest eliminating the duplicate bike trail and remove two trees/undergrowth next to the state trail, enhancing visibility and safety and saving a large portion of the $1.5 million. Every hill on every county road cannot be removed.
At minimum, $2.7 million will be spent to construct a new Highway 9 "to enhance the area for the residents." Environmental consequences are huge. Agricultural cropland and income will be lost, while adding a new hazard... heavy farm equipment traveling on/across a busy highway to access those areas, if any remain farmable.
Five public wetlands will be forever altered. The new road negatively impacts these wetlands. Man has never yet been able to duplicate what nature has created. The tranquil, natural country atmosphere will be sacrificed, a loss to residents who moved to this area to fulfill their dream of living in a serene country environment. Deer and other wildlife are very plentiful in this area, putting motorists at greater risk of involvement in an incapacitating or fatal accident. The new road borders a state wildlife management/hunting area. Existing 9 will still need costly repairs and resurfacing.
Widening the existing road is the best option. Wider shoulders would improve safety for walkers and non-motorized traffic. Traffic calming measures used extensively in Europe and more recently in parts of U.S. and Canada should be investigated to reduce speed and enhance safety for motorized/non-motorized users. The majority of investigated accidents have involved property damage/hit-and-run/alcohol-related incidents. There have been no fatal accidents on 9. This option reduces loss of tillable farmland and farm vehicle encounters. Reports of speeding have decreased per Kandiyohi County Sheriff Department records.
Contact Public Works Highway Department by the mid-September deadline with opinions. We have the right to enjoy continued peace and tranquility.