Paynesville council, MnDOT to discuss Hwy. 23
PAYNESVILLE -- The Paynesville City Council has decided to address some concerns with the proposed route for the state Highway 23 bypass. The council heard from several business owners Nov. 2 at an informational meeting about the route the Minnes...
PAYNESVILLE -- The Paynesville City Council has decided to address some concerns with the proposed route for the state Highway 23 bypass.
The council heard from several business owners Nov. 2 at an informational meeting about the route the Minnesota Department of Transportation has selected for the bypass. The route was also the council's preferred choice.
MnDOT announced in September that it had chosen the "west" bypass option for a new four-lane section of the highway. Currently Highway 23 runs through Paynesville. The west route would bypass the city to the west and north, just brushing the city's limits.
The $44 million project is scheduled for construction in 2009.
City Administrator Steve Helget said several business leaders made requests related to the new highway, primarily reducing the speed limit at Paynesville to 30 or 40 mph and installing stoplights at some intersections.
Lowell Flaten, MnDOT preliminary design engineer, said 65 mph is the fastest traffic would be able to travel on the highway. Most of the four-lane areas of Highway 23 are 65 mph, except for a section going through Spicer and New London.
Flaten said in a telephone interview Friday that the speed will be set after the highway is constructed. Generally, the speed at which 85 percent of the traffic is traveling will determine the speed limit.
At its Wednesday meeting, the council discussed the Nov. 2 meeting and decided to meet with MnDOT representatives on Nov. 21 to talk about some of those issues.
"The council did take those comments to heart," Helget said.
The council will come with a few requests at that meeting. It wants the old Highway 23 route to be renamed "Business District 23." It would also like either a stoplight or at an at-grade crossing at the intersection of the new Highway 23 and Cemetery Road, which will be realigned for the project.
Currently, the design shows Cemetery Road as an overpass that could be accessed by eastbound traffic only. There would be full accesses in and out of the city at state Highway 55 and at Lake Avenue.
The council also wants the entrances to the city to be accessible and attractive, Helget said.
Lake Avenue likely will be used more often once the highway is built because it is near Industrial Park, Helget said. That street is a 5-ton road. The council would like MnDOT to upgrade it to a 9-ton road to accommodate an expected increase in truck traffic, Helget said.
The council also discussed whether the speed limit should be lowered at Paynesville, but only one council member spoke in favor of that, Helget said.
In December, MnDOT plans to present the highway design to the city for its approval, called "municipal consent." The council has 15 days after receiving the design to set a public hearing on it. The public must have 30 days' notice of the hearing.
After the hearing, the council has 90 days to either approve or reject MnDOT's design, Flaten said. The city could approve it with conditions, he said.
If the city rejects the plan or if it requests conditions that MnDOT cannot or won't do, MnDOT can either stop the project or appeal the city's decision, Flaten said.
A three-person committee appointed by the city and MnDOT would hear testimony in the appeal, he said.