Junction Highway 71 to County Road 31
at the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) understand that
people want government to act in an environmentally and fiscally responsible
manner. The open and involved public process that we have used to develop
this project has been geared toward understanding the local concerns so
that the best project could be developed to solve your transportation
this project, Mn/DOT has attempted to balance the safety and mobility
needs of the traveling public, the city of Spicer, and the larger community
in a socially, economically, and environmentally responsible manner. The
project we have put forth, we believe, is the best solution to the problems
developing on Highway 23.
the May 2, 2000 Public Hearing and the closing of the Environmental Assessment
(EA) comment period, Mn/DOT has been reviewing and responding to project
comments. Mn/DOT would like to take this opportunity to thank the citizens
in the New London-Spicer area who participated in the EA/preliminary design
process and those who will continue to be involved through the completion
of the project.
and foremost, this project is designed to improve safety! Each and every
accident which occurs on the Trunk Highways in our area become very personal
to Mn/DOT, driving us to continually question how we can improve the safety
of the system. Two-lane highways, such as Highway 23, are the location
of the majority of all the traffic fatalities in Minnesota. This past
summer, three head-on collisions resulting in three fatalities occurred
on Highway 23 between Willmar and St. Cloud. Since January, accidents
on this same segment of highway have resulted in 32 injuries and 46 occurrences
of property damage. The proposed improvement, a 4-lane divided highway,
is a significantly safer design and statistically will reduce the crash
rate. We believe, minor improvements to Highway 23 like turn lanes, bypass
lanes, and super two sections will not solve the long-term safety problem.
Quality has been identified as a major concern for the Highway 23 project,
which has led to extensive studies, working closely with the regulatory
agencies and the City of Spicer. We are committed to a "no net increase"
approach to nutrient loading into the lakes and are confident we can meet
that goal. The Highway 23 project will actually correct much of the direct
storm discharge into area lakes.
Minnesota Department of Transportation is in the process of forming a
local interagency water quality advisory committee consisting of Mn/DOT,
the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Natural
Resources, City of Spicer, Kandiyohi County and local lake associations.
proposal is to treat runoff from Highway 23 and a portion of the City
of Spicer. The combined City and Highway 23 runoff is presently contributing
26 pounds of phosphorous per year to Green Lake. With the reconstruction
of the highway and redirection of the runoff to treatment methods the
anticipated contribution of phosphorous would be reduced to 20 pounds
per year - a decrease of approximately 23%.
put this in perspective, modeling of the Green Lake watershed indicates
approximately 3700 pounds of phosphorous enters the lake each year from
all sources. The contribution from the new highway will continue to be
less than 1%.
Minnesota Department of Transportation is committed to design a sound
project that will be done in a way to protect and enhance our vital natural
resources. If necessary, additional land will be acquired to meet the
water quality goals.
in the process Mn/DOT considered a variety of routes (alignments) for
Highway 23. Three different alignments bypassing west of Spicer along
with the existing alignment were examined. The alternative alignments
studied did not meet the needs of the communities along Highway 23 and
all of them showed greater environmental impacts than constructing on
the existing alignment.
Mn/DOT constructed a bypass, Spicer would no longer be served by the State
Highway system; meaning the loss of an asset in the estimation of most
residents and a move which many cities would not tolerate. While it is
likely that the city would experience a reduction in traffic volumes on
the existing roadway, this drop would only be temporary and in ten to
twelve years the traffic volumes would be back up again to where they
are now and would still continue to increase. An expansion that cannot
be done now because of impacts certainly will not be done fifteen years
from now after more development has occurred.
idea of a four-lane in Spicer originated with the city itself. As far
back as 1988 the City was requesting of Mn/DOT that Highway 23 be expanded
to four lanes. During the project development phase, the city of Spicer
hired a consultant who made several recommendations. Many of those recommendations
were incorporated into the present design. The important point to recognize
is that the consultant hired by the City recommended Highway 23 stay in
Spicer and be constructed to four lanes.
the needs of the communities of Spicer, New London and New London Township
lies with reconstructing the existing highway, not building a new highway
traffic growth driving this project is a result of the rapid growth in
population in the area directly served by the existing highway. From 1970
to 1990 the census figures show:
population growth in the City of New London
population growth in the City of Spicer
population growth in New London Township
growth combined with society’s increased mobility and safety concerns
has created the need for improvements to existing Highway 23. A bypass
will not adequately address the projected traffic growth of these communities
in a safe manner.
Highway 23 project is funded using dedicated state and federal revenue
from taxes on the sale of motor vehicles, gasoline, and other road user
fees. The 2000 Legislative Session provided a one-time allocation of over
$500 million of General Fund dollars for transportation needs. The Minnesota
Department of Transportation has set aside $13.3 million of these dollars
to purchase right of way for this project. This project provides the opportunity
for West Central Minnesota to capture its share of transportation funding.
is common with most transportation investment projects the final cost
estimates are higher than the preliminary estimate. These increases are
due to the inflation of construction materials and property cost along
with the lack of detail that is known when the project is initially proposed.
On the Highway 23 project, a significant portion of the increase is due
to requests by the public for additional enhancements (water quality,
frontage roads, aesthetics, two traffic signals, trail enhancements and
wetland mitigation). These have resulted in a better project that is more
responsive to the needs of the community and environment.
Minnesota Department of Transportation is continuing to work with the
City of Spicer to address ongoing issues. Spicer will be credited with
the value of city owned land that will be used for detention ponds. Therefore,
the city’s portion will be significantly less than the $128,611 originally
benefit cost analysis has been performed for this project. The benefits
to the public (accident reduction, fuel savings and reduction in delay)
far outweigh the initial construction cost of the project.
of the bypass estimates were less costly than construction on the existing
alignment, with the lowest cost being $29.8 million. The important point
about the bypass argument is that the existing roadway, at a minimum,
would still need to be upgraded at an estimated cost of $18.1 million.
Assuming we build the lowest cost bypass and reconstruct the existing
roadway the total project cost rises to $47.9 million, which is similar
to our present project cost estimate of $48.3 million. The estimated cost
only represents one element to determine the feasibility of an alignment
alternative. Some of the other elements, which would need to be integrated,
would be safety, mobility, and harmony with communities and the environment.
environmental documents are being reviewed by the Federal Highway Administration
(FHWA). If the FHWA determines that an EIS is not required, we would
anticipate that a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) would be
issued in mid-November. Upon receipt of a FONSI, Mn/DOT would then proceed
into the detail design phase of the project and begin the permitting
and right-of-way acquisition process.
involvement will continue through the completion of the project, such
establishment of a local interagency water quality advisory committee,
which will meet in mid-December.
design aesthetics such as decorative lighting, gateway entrance to the
city, landscaping and others