MnDOT plans environmental review on Hwy 23 from New London to Paynesville
WILLMAR, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Transportation plans to conduct an environmental review on Hwy 23 to determine the feasibility of extending the four lane Hwy from New London to Paynesville.
An environmental review is required before any construction can be done and it involves the evaluation of the social and environmental effects on the human and natural environment by transportation projects of this magnitude. MnDOT’s Project Manager, Susann Karnowski, notes “Since an environmental review can take 18 months or longer, it’s important that the environmental phase is completed if construction funding becomes available in the future the project development will be ready to move forward”. Currently, the construction phase is not funded.
Public involvement and interagency coordination are integral parts of the environmental review process. Potential impacts and mitigations are identified for a range of alternatives. Public feedback is considered and incorporated into the report.
The Hwy 23 Corridor extends across the state of Minnesota from Interstate 90 to Interstate 35 and beyond. Locally and regionally, Hwy 23 serves as a major connection for the area's residents and businesses. MnDOT District 8 recently completed a study titled “Manufacturer's Perspectives on Transportation” in which 75 manufacturers and carriers in Southwest and West Central Minnesota were interviewed to determine their most important transportation issues. Hwy 23 was frequently mentioned as a critical connection to deliver goods to national and international markets. Hwy 23 is classified as an Interregional Corridor and serves as an important freight route.
The segment of Hwy 23 between Willmar and Interstate 94 is a distance of approximately 53 miles. Of those 53 miles, all but 15 miles have been constructed as a four lane roadway. The two gaps in the four lane are between New London and Paynesville and between Paynesville and Richmond.
There are currently no plans for constructing the four lane because there is no funding available for the construction at this time. However, completing the environmental review and layout would be a significant step in planning for improvements if funds become available in the future.