In 2003, a Scoping Document was completed for the Highway 371 area in Crow Wing and Cass Counties to identify the need for future improvements to the approximately 16 mile segment.
In 2003, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was issued that addressed the safety and capacity concerns, as well as the potential for social, economic, and environmental impacts to the area. In the DEIS five specific alignment alternatives within the corridor were considered and studied.
The alternatives included:
- Alternative 1 - No Build Alternative
- Alternative 2 - Existing Alignment
- Alternative 3 - Existing Alignment with Pequot Lakes Bypass
- Alternative 4 - Existing Alignment with Pequot Lakes and Jenkins Bypass
- Alternative 5 - Existing alignment with Jenkins Bypass
In June 2004, Alternative 2 was presented at a public meeting as the preferred alternative.
Since then it became increasingly difficult for MnDOT and the city of Pequot Lakes to agree on the details of Alternative 2, as Highway 371 passed through the city. Most of the discussion related to:
- Safety concerns expressed by the city of Pequot Lakes related to the projected traffic volumes for the through-town alignment
- Implementation of required access management controls in Pequot Lakes
See Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement (SFEIS) for more information.
Once the selection of the preferred alternative was determined, MnDOT began working on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), which focused solely on Alternative 2.
In January 2005, the FEIS was issued. The document covered the potential impacts that would occur with the proposed Alternative 2 improvements and any mitigation commitments. This included the need for improved safety, congestion reduction, and access along the corridor.
In June 2006, the Pequot Lakes City Council passed a resolution requesting MnDOT to reroute Highway 371 to a corridor east of town.
In January 2007, a joint committee comprised of members of the City Council and the Pequot Lakes Planning and Zoning Commission have met to evaluate and refine the details of a bypass alignment. In September 2007, this group published its findings and recommendations in a Highway 371 Alternate Route Study Group Report.
On December 18, 2008, the Pequot Lakes City Council passed a resolution identifying the alternate alignment (later identified as Alternative 3 MOD) as the preferred alternative for the expansion of Hwy 371 in the City of Pequot Lakes.
In February 2010, MnDOT completed a Draft Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement (Draft SFEIS) for the analysis of impacts and mitigation in the areas affected by the design change to a bypass of Pequot Lakes.
On March 8, 2010 the Draft SFEIS was distributed for public review and comment. The comment period ends on April 16, 2010. Two public hearings/open houses are scheduled for Monday March 29, 2010 at the Pequot Lakes High School Cafeteria and Tuesday March 30, 2010 at the Pine River City Hall.
In July 2010, MnDOT completed the Supplemental Final Environmental Impact Statement (SFEIS). The document covered the potential impacts that would occur with the proposed Alternative 3 MOD improvements and any mitigation commitments.
The Record of Decision and Adequacy Determination will be issued in mid-to-late October 2010.
In 2012, a project will be constructed in partnership with Crow Wing county and the city of Nisswa. The project will relocate the existing signal at Main Street to the new intersection of Crow Wing Hwy 18, approximately one block south. Construction of this project will be coordinated with Crow Wing County as part of the new alignment of Crow Wing County Hwy 18 in Nisswa.
MnDOT will continue to work closely with the cities of Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Jenkins, and Pine River to further refine the layout concepts within their own communities. This will be an ongoing process until the final highway design is completed.
Thus far, the main focus for concern within the communities has been access to the highway corridor with coinciding available service/frontage roads.
Once the layout concept is finalized, MnDOT will seek municipal consent from each of the cities, and the final detailed design plans for construction can be initiated.
Future construction of the Hwy 371 four-lane expansion will begin at Nisswa and proceed northward. This is due to the highest need and associated traffic volumes between Nisswa and Pequot Lakes. The construction phases at this time are unknown, but it is estimated to take several years to construct.