Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Oct. 23, 2000

Proposed HL detour questioned

By Lynda Jensen

The proposed detour through Howard Lake during Highway 12 reconstruction next summer dominated the Howard Lake City Council meeting Oct. 17.

Jerome Cafferty, a retired truck driver, expressed his objections over the detour since it entails routing heavy traffic past two churches, the back of a school and the mortuary. Cafferty lives along the proposed route.

"Plain and simple," Cafferty said. "To me, it's dead wrong," regarding the detour going through town.

Cafferty expressed particular concern over the idea of semi trucks trying to negotiate the turns around residential streets, since he has the experience to understand the logistics of this as a former trucker.

"It will be a total fiasco," Cafferty said.

"We share your concerns," Mayor Gerry Smith said, but pointed out that the city expected most truck drivers to plan their own alternate routes around the construction.

"The drivers are used to construction," commented Councilor Tom Kutz. "They'll hit County Road 30."

Aside from this, Smith said, the detour was decided from discussion with business owners who depend on Highway 12 traffic to exist.

"A total detour is not desirable if our businesses are to survive construction," Smith said.

"The downtown businesses will die," Smith said. Even the simple detour that was done last summer almost instantly reduced sales for local businesses from 10 to 40 percent, he said.

Previously, Smith spoke with Curt Eastlund of the Minnesota Department of Transportation about Cafferty's concerns, since Cafferty approached him about it a few days ago.

Eastlund agreed with city officials that the detour was best where it is being planned, Smith said.

Initially, the detour was supposed to be on Ninth Avenue, not Seventh.

"What are you going to do when the little kids get run over?" Cafferty said.

"Parents shouldn't let their children play in the road," Smith said. "God willing - it won't happen."

Cafferty was also upset over his mailbox being damaged by contractors starting on the roadwork. Engineer Brad DeWolf indicated that he talk with the contractors about this.

Later in the meeting, the council asked Police Chief Mike Simmons about his thoughts regarding the detour during his police report.

Simmons arrived in time to give his report, but missed Cafferty's comments at the beginning of the meeting.

Simmons echoed Cafferty's sentiments about truck traffic. "I'd like to see signage directing semi trucks through country roads and not through town. It would be faster and safer for drivers," he said.

"The turns through residential areas are tough," Simmons added.

Smith directed DeWolf to contact MnDOT about this possibility.

Councilor John Swanson suggested crossing guards at the school. Smith agreed with this, but pointed out that most of the work will occur during the summer months. Smith asked Simmons to meet with the school to this end. Kutz will contact MnDOT about redirecting truck traffic.

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