Newsletter July 4, 2010
About the Project
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) is nearing completion of a preliminary design and environmental study for future improvements to the 3.5-mile common section of Trunk Highway 23 and U.S. Highway 71 (Highway 23/71). The project corridor extends from the Highway 23/71 northern split in Dovre Township to the southern split of Highway 23/71 and Trunk Highway 294 (Business 71) in the City of Willmar. Mn/DOT and its consultant, Short Elliott Hendrickson, Inc. (SEH) is completing preliminary design work and preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to assess the potential impacts related to the proposed safety improvements.
The proposed improvements are needed to address planned growth in the North Willmar Lakes Area and provide long-term safety and mobility improvements for the Highway 23/71 Corridor, which has been identified as an emerging freeway section (no at-grade intersections).
Completion of the EIS will allow Mn/DOT and local agencies to program improvements in the corridor. No funding has been allocated nor has a construction year been established.
Identification of a Preferred Alternative
The Preferred Alternative was identified the after completing several steps that included: developing a full range of alternatives, evaluating alternatives against the project purpose and need objectives, assessing potential impacts, and considering public and agency input/comments. After careful consideration of these steps, Mn/DOT and the Federal Highway Administration identified Alternative 2B – Relocated County 90 Interchange (Southern Alignment) and CSAH 25 Interchange, with the inclusion of North End Access Connection Alternative N2, as the Preferred Alternative. The reverse side of the page illustrates the preliminary layout of the Preferred Alternative.
Additional coordination with local, state, and federal agencies occurred following the publication of the Draft EIS to finalize details of the Preferred Alternative, most noticeably the identification of North End Access Connection Alternative N2. This access alternative was selected because it results in fewer environmental impacts especially along the shoreline of Point Lake and has a substantially lower construction cost and higher benefit/cost ratio.
Open House Public Meeting to be Held July 29th
Mn/DOT will be hosting a public meeting on Thursday, July 29, 2010. The open house style meeting will provide an opportunity for attendees to review the preliminary layout and learn more about the anticipated impacts. Staff from Mn/DOT and its consultant (SEH Inc.) will be present to discuss the preliminary layout of the preferred alternative and the environmental impact findings, and answer your questions. The meeting location is wheelchair accessible. If you have special needs and desire to attend this meeting, or have questions but are unavailable to attend, please contact the Project Manager as listed below.