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Co. takes step back from plan for Eagle Lake road

WILLMAR -- A proposal to reconstruct County Road 9 by Eagle Lake is being put on hold to give engineers time to consider the pros and cons of moving the road even farther to the east than originally proposed.

Gary Danielson, Kandiyohi County Public Works director, had been expected to make a recommendation Tuesday on whether to go ahead with the realignme-nt project in 2012.

But he told the Kandiyohi County Commissioners that he wants time to explore suggestions made by Eagle Lake residents to expand the project and move the road farther east of the lake.

Doing so would reduce the number of access points to the lake to just two or three, which would reduce accidents, said Danielson, citing statistics that showed there were 26 accidents on that section of road in a 10-year period ending in 2008. Using state cost figures for the different types of injury and property damage accidents that occurred, he said the cost was more than $2 million.

"It pays to look at the safest design out there," said Danielson.

Under the original plan proposed to Eagle Lake residents last month, a 3-mile stretch of the existing road would be rebuilt with a 1½-mile section shifted slightly to the east of the densely populated Eagle Lake.

There would be access points about every 100 feet.

The alternate plan discussed Tuesday would move the road another 40 to 200 feet farther to the east than the original realignment and reduce the number of access points to two or three.

However, more of the existing road would remain in place under the second plan to allow lake residents to get out of their driveways, said Danielson.

Moving the road even farther east would allow greater housing development opportunities in an area north of County Road 26, but it would also increase right-of-way costs because additional property would have to be purchased.

The commissioners will have to look into the crystal ball to determine how County Road 9 will be used in the future. Because the road is a main "collector" road in the county's transportation system, the issue of mobility for the community versus access for lake residents will have to be addressed.

"It's a long-term decision," said Danielson.

Sherrie Grindy, an Eagle Lake resident, said if the road is turned into a "high-speed corridor" she's concerned there will be more accidents.

While acknowledging the challenges of having multiple access points on a lake road, Grindy said other lakes with large numbers of houses, like Green Lake, deal with it safely. She also said reports of speeding and accidents have decreased on the Eagle Lake road since police patrol of the area increased.

Grindy also questioned the wisdom of spending money to move the road. "I'm really concerned about taxpayer dollars in this economy," she said.

Once the alternate plan has been reviewed by engineers, Danielson said another community meeting will be held to get public input.

A proposal to revamp County Road 26, which joins County Road 9, is expected to proceed next year.

In other action:

- County Attorney Boyd Beccue made a presentation Tuesday about synthetic marijuana and possible efforts to make the substance illegal in Minnesota. He said there are no signs that it is being sold in Kandiyohi County at this point, but it's being sold in St. Cloud and through the Internet. He said it would be difficult to enforce a county ban on the substance.

- The commissioners reviewed four bids for installation of a final cover on a section of the sanitary landfill and installation of gas vents at the landfill. The project was estimated to cost $207,143. The bids ranged from $235,929 from Duininck Inc. of Prinsburg to $417,652 from Veit & Company Inc. of Rogers. Action will be taken next month.

- A grant agreement was signed with the Board of Water and Soil Resources for a $104,759 grant for programs like the county feedlot and wetland conservation programs. The commissioners also approved a Safe & Sober grant of $30,000 for the county.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750