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Holiday 'Round the Towns

Sun, Jan 7th, 2001
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Monday, January 8, 2001

A number of residents and business owners turned out at the Preston City Council meeting on Monday to discuss the proposed Highway 16/52 upgrade through Preston. Fred Nagle, Preston City Administrator, briefed the city council on some possible adjustments to the plan that the city, county and MnDOT are thinking of making.

Nagle said that one idea would be to move the Houston street entrance to the city further west toward the triangle area to better accomodate the needs of the Citgo One Stop and Preston Service Plus. He also pointed out that an additional access from the highway going south into the city would be added, better linking County Road 17 with the downtown.

While the meeting was not a formal public hearing on the plan, the council allowed for citizen input. Several highway business owners spoke out about the potential loss of direct highway access. Some businesses rely on truck deliveries and fear that street access to their businesses will be inadequate. Other owners feared that potential customers would keep driving on by if there were no direct highway access.

A number of residents also pointed out the need to reduce speed through town from 40 mph to 30 mph. Mayor Clarence Quanrud told the group that a speed study will take place in the next four to six weeks. According to Quanrud, the results of the study will determine if highway speeds are eventaully reduced through town.

Quanrud assured the group that the highway upgrade is very much in the planning stages and encouraged Preston residents to view the plan at city hall.

The citizens concluded their comments by urging the city council to work on their behalf to increase the number of accesses to the highway.

As one business owner said, “The more access you lose, greater is the potential to lose traffic and the business that comes with it.”

Jim Westby, Mabel’s current mayor, is expected to formally accept the position of mayor after a special city council meeting was held last week. Mabel was left without a mayor for the upcoming term due to the sudden death of mayor-elect Irvin ‘Bud’ Johnson on December 10. Johnson ran unopposed for mayor, though Westby received 160 write-in votes to Johnson’s 189 votes in the November election. Westby is expected to accept the position at the regular city council meeting on January 9th.

The public is invited to an open house Thursday, January 11, to learn more about the proposed Highway 43 Bridge replacement project over Rush Creek.

The Minnesota Department of Transporation plans to remove the existing bridge and construct a new one in its place. The project includes reconstructing the highway approaches to the bridge between West Center Street and Winona Street. Both sides of the bridge will also include 8-foot wide paved shoulders and 8-foot wide sidewalks. During construction, traffic will be detoured via a temporary bridge adjacent to the existing structure.

The existing bridge was constructed in 1933 and is geometrically and structurally deficient.

Mn/DOT plans to let the project in late summer 2002. Construction of a temporary bridge is planned for the fall of 2002. Traffic will be detoured onto the temporary bridge late fall 2002 while crews replace the existing structure. The entire project should be completed and the new bridge open to traffic by late fall 2003.

The open house will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Tenborg Community Center in Rushford. A formal presentation will be given at 7 p.m. Mn/DOT, city of Rushford and consultant representatives will be on hand to answer questions and take comments. Maps and layouts of the project will be displayed.

Individuals with a disability who need reasonable accommodation to participate in the meeting should contact Tom Parker at 952-345-4105 or the Minnesota Relay Service at 1-800-627-3529.

The Whalan City Council swore in two new council members at its January meeting Tuesday night. Doris Peterson and Linda Hazel are replacing council members Arden Tuftin and Robert Engen.

The Council approved a conditional use permit for Larry and Sheryl Johnson to build a Planned Unit Development on their property in the city. The development will operate as a resort, and include a lodge and nine cabins.

The Council listened to a presentation by Southeast Engineering of Rochester. At the request of the Council, the firm conducted a study on proposed options for a citywide sewage treatment system. The Council will study the proposal.

If you have a local town news item, e-mail the Journal fillcojo@means.net or call Kia Donais at 1-800-599-0481(in 507 area code) or 507-765-2151.

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