County previews Highway 34 construction at public meeting in Perham
Otter Tail County Commissioners held a public meeting to discuss the planned reconstruction of 5.9 miles of County Highway 34 between County Highway 35 and U.S Highway 10. The plan also includes the construction of a new bike trail spanning 6.4 miles along County Highway 34.
About 80 local residents were present in a conference room at the PACC to hear the plan and how construction will affect their property.
The project, set to be completed this year, will straighten curves, lower hills, and make ditches more traversable for lawn mowing. The road speed will stay at 55 mph with safety improvements coming from new right turn lanes, rumble strips and street lights at intersections. The trail will run the north side of the highway and includes 5 ft. paved lanes, rest stops every 2 miles, and a trail head parking facility.
The construction budget is $6,950,000 and comes from local sales and wheelage tax funds. Trail paving funds come from a split of federal and local funds.
Project Engineer Jeff Langan said not everyone is going to agree on the plan, but the package needs to help everyone. Highway 34 was constructed in 1962, and another rebuild won't be due for another 75 years, according to Langan.
"We need to think about the future, what we need for the future and where we're going," he said.
After introductions, Langam traced the whole project on Google maps, explaining points of interest and planned improvements along the way.
Because of the adjustments to the road curves and the width of the project, including the bike trail, the county will be acquiring easement rights on privately owned real estate. Mark Storm from Storm Right of Way Solutions outlined how the process works. After a property valuation has been made, the county will offer to purchase the easement rights required for the full amount it has determined to be just compensation.
During a question and answer period, local residents raised concerns about driveway access, improving safety at boat launches and bicyclists relieving themselves in the fields along the trail.