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MnDOT commits funds for Highway 371 expansion

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The Highway 371 four-lane expansion project from Nisswa to Jenkins has reached a stage never before attained: Funding has been committed for the project.

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The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) committed $58 million toward the project for fiscal year 2018, said Jim Hallgren, MnDOT project manager. He told the Pequot Lakes and Jenkins city councils this month that MnDOT was successful in securing funding for construction to start after July 1, 2017. While the construction schedule hasn't been developed yet, work likely will begin in late summer 2017. It will be a multi-year project.

Funding is included for an interchange — rather than an at-grade intersection with a stoplight — at County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 11 and Highway 371 in Pequot Lakes, Hallgren said. The interchange would include entrance and exit ramps to and from the highway, as well as a CSAH 11 overpass.

MnDOT is in the process of hiring a consultant to develop the interchange and will include city officials in discussions.

MnDOT is starting the right-of-way acquisition process, Hallgren said. MnDOT staff will mail letters to affected property owners as part of the notification process and then will set up meetings in the next couple of weeks for face-to-face discussions to buy their properties.

MnDOT must buy all or parts of 80-90 parcels of land. Six to 10 property owners will be displaced.

In other Pequot Lakes street discussions, the council talked June 3 about options for streetlights on North Washington Avenue, which will be reconstructed later this summer. Visit the city's website at http://www.pequotlakes-mn.gov/ and click on the "Street Lights Survey" on the left to vote for a design by June 22.

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