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New I-94 exit on fast track

A plan to build a third on-off ramp for Alexandria on Interstate 94 is on the fast track.

It could happen in two or three years — much sooner than expected.

The new interchange was included in a city/county/state transportation plan approved by local leaders in 2011, but that timeline went all the way out to 2030.

At its Monday meeting, the Alexandria City Council voted unanimously to support the Douglas County Board's application to the Minnesota Department of Transportation's "Corridors of Commerce" program for a third interchange.

The timeline is speeding up because MnDOT is moving ahead with a plan to completely overhaul the Lake Burgen Rest Area east of Alexandria — the spot where the third interchange is expected to be built. Doing both projects at the same time makes sense, according to City Planner Mike Weber.

City and county leaders have discussed the possibility of a third interchange for years. Two potential locations were talked about, both east of Alexandria, either at County Road 17 (Gene's Barn Road) or County Road 106 (Pioneer Road). The County Road 17 option was discarded after studies showed it wouldn't be used as much by freeway drivers.

The new interchange would connect to Pioneer Road.

The council's resolution of support notes that Alexandria is a growing community in need of additional access to and from I-94.

The county is applying for the interchange funding instead of the city because it would be located outside of the city limits.

The Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce will also be asked to support the new interchange.

The Legislature created the Corridors of Commerce program in 2013, authorizing new trunk highway bonds for the construction, reconstruction and improvement of trunk highways for projects not already in the state's Transportation Improvement Program.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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