LITTLE FALLS -- Lyle and Wanda Warum worry about the future of Highway 371.
With their home located about 300 feet from the roadway, converting the highway to four lanes would affect the Warums and several other property owners.
"We're not worried about the traffic, we're worried about them taking half our yard," Lyle Warum said.
And it is for these reasons, and many others, that the Minnesota Department of Transportation held an open house to discuss the highway conversion, called Stage Three, on Wednesday at the Morrison County Government Center in Little Falls.
Public input will help determine which route option will be focused on in an environmental impact study, said Roger Risser, project manager with MnDOT.
Stage Three is the southernmost 8.5-mile segment of Highway 371 between Little Falls and Brainerd, running from the junction with Highway 10 to a half-mile north of Morrison County Road 48, near Camp Ripley. Construction is currently scheduled for 2005-06.
There are several route options being considered, including building the highway to the east of the existing highway, on the existing highway or to the west. It was the option to the west that troubled the Warums.
"About half our property would go with that option," Lyle Warum said.
With layouts of each option placed around a room at the government center Wednesday, residents could get a detailed look at each, with MnDOT representatives on hand to answer any questions people might have.
Risser said the environmental impact study will look at about 30 things, including visual and air quality, right-of-way issues, farmland and protected areas. Camp Ripley also needs to maintain its rail service, so the location of the tracks also has to be taken into consideration, Risser added.
"The feedback's been good," Risser said about the public comments.
Risser said a decision on which route option would be used is expected in the 2001-02 winter.
Stage One, from the south intersection of the 371 bypass to the Dewing Highway; and Stage Two, from the Dewing Highway to Morrison County Road 48, are scheduled for construction in 2003.
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