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Paynesville's Highway 23 bypass plan to be revised by MnDOT

PAYNESVILLE -- The Minnesota Department of Transportation is revising its Highway 23 bypass plan in Paynesville to avoid construction in an abandoned city landfill.

Mayor Jeff Thompson said Thursday the department will need to revise the far eastern portion of the plan to avoid a former city landfill.

"It's always something," Thompson said. "But when you deal with a project of this magnitude, you can understand those things happening.

"They're sometimes difficult to swallow and frustrating to deal with, but you just have to buck up and do the best you can."

Thompson said MnDOT presented an option during Wednesday's regular meeting that included the bypass' alignment between the city's main electric lift station and wastewater treatment facility.

Lowell Flaten, an engineer for MnDOT's District 8 office in Willmar, said in a Thursday e-mail that Wednesday's proposed revision isn't final. However, it is the most probable option, he said.

A revision to the highway section is tricky, Thompson said, because the lift station and wastewater treatment facility are near the landfill's location, therefore eliminating a few sites where the section could be. The Middle Fork Crow River is also south of the site, Thompson said, so that also reduces an option.

When the Paynesville City Council gave MnDOT municipal consent for the Highway 23 bypass in July, Flaten said an alteration to this section of the bypass plan was a possibility.

According to Tribune archives, Flaten had said the department may need to shift the section of the four-lane highway north to avoid the landfill. The property around the landfill, he said, was classified as contaminated property and could become an environmental concern if the area was dug up for highway construction.

"Once you start digging into those old dumps and landfill sites, who knows what they will find," Thompson said. "And it could cost several million dollars to clean up some of those areas."

Construction for the bypass, which will run to the north and west of Paynesville's city limits, is slated for May 2010.

In other business:

- The Paynesville council approved a $3,000 purchase of Microsoft Project 2007 software. Thompson said the program will help the council organize and track city projects.

- Paynesville is officially 19 acres bigger after Paynesville Township approved the city's annexation of a property needed for the city's new emergency medical services building. The construction site is located four blocks east of Paynesville Area Hospital.