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Moving road will improve safety, co. contends

Gary Danielson, Kandiyohi County Public Works director, discusses the road plan Thursday during the public meeting in Willmar. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR -- Eagle Lake area residents and landowners were given a chance Thursday to learn about and comment on Kandiyohi County proposals to construct and reconstruct portions of County Road 9 and County Road 26 along and east of the lake.

Kandiyohi County is proposing to rebuild and realign County Road 9 Northeast affecting traffic flow and properties on, and east of, Eagle Lake. The work is proposed from County Road 90 to the state Highway 23 interchange.

Also, the county is proposing to reconstruct County Road 26 from County Road 9 to one-third mile east of County Road 127.

Along with road work, the county is developing proposals for a bike and pedestrian trail system.

The County Road 9 project is estimated at $2.7 million; bike trails would be extra. County Road 26 is estimated at $1.2 to $1.3 million.

The 90-minute informational meeting at the County Health and Human Services Building community room was attended by about 80 lake residents and landowners, along with the five members of the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners, County Public Works Director Gary Danielson and other county staff members.

Danielson explained the projects and answered questions from an audience that seemed for the most part to support the projects.

The County Road 9 project involves the most work because 1½ miles of the 3½-mile section will be proposed for relocation away from the densely developed residential area on the northeast corner of Eagle Lake. Beginning at County Road 90, the road would angle to the northeast and would connect with 37th Street Northeast.

The road would follow 37th Street to a spot by the gun club property near the northeast corner of the lake and then closely parallel the existing County Road 9 northerly to state Highway 23.

County Road 9 is being proposed for relocation for safety reasons, to bring the road up to standards of other roads in the county, and to handle projected traffic increases, according to Danielson.

Present daily traffic counts on County Road 9 range from 1,284 on the northeast end to 2,674 on the south end. Those counts are projected to increase to 1,798 on the northeast end to 3,744 on the south end by 2030.

Danielson asked that further public comments be submitted no later than Sept. 15. He will submit comments to county board members who will receive his recommendation at the Sept. 21 commissioners meeting.

The commissioners will decide whether they want to proceed with County Road 9, which wouldn't be constructed until 2012 because officials will need much of 2011 to talk to landowners and purchase right-of-way easements before construction begins. The County Road 26 project would be built in 2011.

Danielson said the existing County Road 9 will be resurfaced and turned over to Green Lake Township as a township road. Work also includes construction of storm water detention ponds that will collect and treat storm water runoff before it enters Eagle Lake. Danielson said any wetlands disturbed by the work must be replaced on a 2-for-1 basis.

Erik Pentz, president of the Eagle Lake Property Owners Association, said he thought the meeting went well.

"I feel, all in all, the project is going to be good,'' he said. "You're never going to make everyone happy, unfortunately, and I think there will be some people unhappy. But I think the improvements we can see from it as far as the safety standpoint and possible water quality issues, which we're pretty concerned about. When they get the bugs worked out it will be a good thing.''

Danielson said many people realize "there are some real positives'' to moving County Road 9 away from the lake to a new location and adding bike trails.

"For those that end up with a lot more traffic closer to their house, we certainly understand why they're concerned and like us to stay where the road is,'' he said.

Commissioner Dennis Peterson, whose district includes the Eagle Lake area, said Danielson did a good job of answering questions.

"Like always, there's many different opinions,'' Peterson said. "I think the people that own acreage where the road is going to be changed it's obvious that they're not real happy with the plan. But for the most part, I think the people that have lakeshore like the plan. We're just taking the ideas and the discussions and we'll have to decide from here where we go.''

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150