This commentary is the result of an article about one resident's opposition to MnDOT's plan for rebuilding/widening MN 371 through the town of Pequot Lakes. This was posted on May 24, 2006.
For our Minnesota contingent...
Just found this article and noted some points of interest. Especially for Monte since he's voiced issues with the project in question.
For those of you who aren't familliar with the project, MnDOT plans on reconstructing and widening (to 4 lanes) MN 371 between the end of the existing 4-lane in Nisswa and the north end of Pine River. Various alternatives of using the existing corridor and/or building bypasses around Pequot Lakes, Jenkins, and/or Pine River were studied. MnDOT announced their "preferred alternative" in March of '04, selecting the "through town" alternate through all three towns.
Which I thought was a mistake...though it cost about 10% more, I think they should have gone with the bypass options, ESPECIALLY at Pequot Lakes. Apparently, the individual mentioned in the article has the same stance. He's trying to get enough signatures on a town petition to put the issue on the November ballot.
This may not seem like much in some states, but Minnesota has a very rigorous "municipal consent" law. If Pequot Lakes residents vote for a bypass, that alone may be enough to get MnDOT to revisit the issue. Likewise, if they vote to keep the through-town route, that'll be the end of it and MnDOT will build the through town route.
In other central Minnesota news, MnDOT decided to table the 4-lane project on US 169 between Onamia and Garrison. At issue was a disagreement between MnDOT and the Mille Lacs band of Ojibwe. MnDOT wanted to follow the existing corridor because it cost less and had fewer environmental impacts. The Indians wanted a new alignment to the west (where, incidentally, they've been buying up land for development), at a significantly higher cost. FHWA sided with the Indians, so as a result MnDOT pulled the plug on the project and is instead going to concentrate on safety improvements along the corridor.
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