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Paynesville bypass work on schedule

WILLMAR -- Work on the Paynesville bypass project remains on schedule, despite this year's record precipitation.

The contactor has been able to develop much of the grade for the new route, thanks to the sandy soils in the area, Jon Huseby, District 8 engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, told members of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Highway 23 Task Force on Friday.

The $42 million, three-year project is one of many being undertaken toward the goal of expanding Minnesota Highway 23 from two to four lanes between Willmar and St. Cloud.

It will still be many years before what Huseby called the "gap,'' the two-lane section still remaining between Paynesville and New London, can be completed.

He said an environmental impact statement for the area north of the Eagle Lake "Y," addressing an interchange and frontage road needs, is virtually complete.

But MnDOT is facing difficulty in obtaining federal transportation funding toward the environmental review needed for work north of New London. The state has not committed funding for construction on any of that segment yet. The federal government is no longer willing to participate in environmental reviews for projects that have not yet made it on a state's list of projects to be funded.

At this point, neither the construction work proposed north of the "Y" nor north of New London have made it to the list of projects slated for funding, according to Huseby.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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