County plan for roundabout in LP derailed by rail authority

May 5, 2008

By Ivan Raconteur
Staff Writer

A county plan for a roundabout and intersection realignment on McLeod County Road 9 in Lester Prairie was derailed Tuesday by the McLeod County Rail Authority.

County Engineer John Brunkhorst presented the plan in a meeting with representatives from the City of Lester Prairie, community residents, and representatives from the rail authority.

The plan included construction of a roundabout and realignment of the intersection of County Road 9 and County Road 23 on the east side of Lester Prairie.

City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk said that, while the plan has not been formally presented to the rail authority, the representatives at the meeting indicated that the roundabout would not be permitted because it would conflict with the Dakota Rail corridor, which is owned by the rail authority.

The corridor runs parallel to County Road 23.

The State of Minnesota requires that the corridor be preserved for possible future transportation use.

A special meeting between Brunkhorst and the Lester Prairie City Council has been scheduled for today at 6:30 p.m. at city hall.

In addition to the intersection improvements, a proposed trail that would connect developments on the east side County Road 9 with the rest of the city will be discussed.

The city received a $175,000 Safe Routes to School grant for development of the trail last year. The proposed route for the trail runs from County Road 9 along the north side of County Road 23 to Pine Street South.

The city originally hoped to get the trail completed in 2007, but delays in getting the paperwork from the grant have pushed the project back.

The goal of the grants is to provide safe routes for children to walk or bike to school.

Pawelk said she is even more concerned about safety now with the Highway 7 project underway. The project has resulted in an increase in traffic, especially truck traffic, on the road.

There is some urgency associated with the trail project. The terms of the grant require that construction be completed by 2009.

McLeod County is acting as the city’s sponsor for the project, which was required because the city has a population of less than 5,000.

Another subject that was discussed during the meeting was the proposed downtown park revitalization project.

The project is located on rail authority property at the intersection of Central Avenue and Juniper Street.

The city council recently expressed concern about a proposed plan for the park because the city does not have a long-term lease for the property.

Pawelk said that the city was told during the meeting that any improvements to the park, including things like the installation of a flag pole, should be submitted to the rail authority for prior approval.

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