Pequot Lakes Mayor Nancy Adams asked the legislators what they could do to help make sure the Highway 371 four-lane expansion project doesn’t get delayed again.
“Pequot Lakes has been very quiet because we knew two projects were ahead in the pecking order, and then we were next,” Adams said.
Recently, she learned that suddenly two other vocal groups supporting their own highway projects had jumped ahead of the Highway 371 project.
“I think for the economy of this town, for the residents of the town, this is very disturbing,” Adams said.
The legislators asked for a city council resolution.
Ward said the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is laying out the 2013-17 project list, which has led to competition for the 2018 project list, which the Highway 371 expansion project is still a part of.
Mark Jurchen, chair of the city’s Economic Development Committee, said cities shouldn’t have to wait 20 and 30 years or more for a project. He cited Staples’ Highway 10 expansion project as an example.
“Something has happened to our ability to get things done in a timely fashion,” Jurchen said. “The longer we delay it, the more it tears a community apart, the more money it costs, the more it has an affect on economic development. There has to be a timeline — and not 20 to 40 years like Staples dealt with. More like five to 10.”
Brenda Myers’ and her family’s properties will be affected by the Highway 371 expansion in Pequot Lakes.
“This is taking forever, and keeping people hanging on the wire is hard on families, it’s hard on businesses. We went through struggles with our own family,” Myers said. “We decided to be last on the list because we want to live where we’re at for as long as we can. My daughter and son-in-law decided to move on and sold to MnDOT last spring.”
Myers also told legislators about a project she and others are working on to bring a regional park to land behind Eagle View Elementary School and the Lowell Wildlife Management Area for multi-recreational purposes, like horseback riding and snowmobiling.
“The initial interest is to preserve, conserve and sustain the area for rural living and horseback riding, and other recreational opportunities,” she said, noting creation of this regional park also hinges on whether the Highway 371 project happens.