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LETTER: White-knuckle travel on Hwy. 34

The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Park Rapids Enterprise by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Park Rapids Enterprise. To submit a letter, email sgeisen@parkrapidsenterprise.com or mail it to Park Rapids Enterprise, 1011 1st. ST. E., Suite 6, Park Rapids, MN 56470.

Park Rapids Enterprise
We are part of The Trust Project.

My perspective is rather different than that of some of my tree-hugging friends, neighbors and acquaintances on the State Hwy. 34 reconstruction project between Ponsford road and the Cotton Lake Four Corners.

For more than 40 years, I have driven twice daily between Park Rapids and Detroit Lakes for employment. In that time, I have been sideswiped by impatient truckers unwilling to wait for a passing lane, run off the road by oncoming MnDOT snow plows with their plows in my lane, drove for miles with one wheel on the gravel shoulder for traction on the ice-glazed highway, drove white-knuckled in snow storms for an hour or more to get to work or home, and slid into the ditch on more than one occasion.

The primary purpose of a state highway is to move the traveling public safely and expeditiously from Point A to Point B. If the view is scenic, so much the better. But the principled purpose is to move the traffic safely and expeditiously.

The Chippewa National Forest, Smoky Hills State Forest, Paul Bunyan State Forest, Itasca State Park and other nearby state forests are all areas with beautiful, mature, old-growth red and white pine trees. Those wishing to take a scenic drive can easily do so by leaving the state highway and using local roads.

Since much of the traffic on Hwy. 34 routinely exceeds the speed limit, I assume the majority of the drivers are not out for a scenic drive.


I, for one, do not care to have to dodge trees if I should find myself in the clear zone.

MnDOT does have discretion on the width and amount of clearing, and the 65-foot “rule” is not and has not been enacted on some other state highways.

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