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Wadena residents deserve four lanes

Since I returned to Wadena to work at the Pioneer Journal, I've heard significant chatter regarding the two-lane stretch of Highway 10 that runs through town. While some patrons confess years of debate surrounding the implementation of four lanes has rendered them mentally exhausted, others maintain it's important to keep talking the good talk.

I'm one of the others.

As a former Oil Patch reporter who has seen the danger of heavily traveled two-lane highways, I feel area residents are entitled to four lanes.

During my first months in Dickinson, N.D., I quickly learned that spotting a mangled patrol car in the ditch and pulling toward the shoulder of "Suicide Highway" so an impatient oil worker could barrel past you was considered normal in the eyes of the general population.

But of course, I'm not in Dickinson anymore. Being the new guy in the room, I understand the residents of Wadena and surrounding communities don't face such daunting traffic... unless perhaps the WE Festers are at large.

Still, I've seen how dangerous Highway 10 can be.

For more than 20 years, my family and I have cruised the road when visiting relatives in and around Wadena. Even during my move to town, I saw emergency personnel responding to an accident near Hawley, where a man landed in a ditch after being ejected from his pick-up truck.

Accidents happen. However, as citizens, there's no shame in us poking area lawmakers with a metaphorical stick in the name of well-being.

While safety is the backbone of my argument, I'm sure there are a handful of drivers out there who have other reasons for wanting Wadena's Highway 10 strip turned to four lanes.

It seems realistic to think some people are only interested in adding lanes so they can weave around slower-moving travelers with ease -- a scenario I've seen all too often in our neck of the woods, especially during the summer months.

A transportation survey sent to the Pioneer Journal last week listed more possible reasons for changing up Highway 10 in Wadena. One reason was "to better accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians." Improving the appearance of Wadena's entrances was another reason brought up in the survey.

Regardless of the reasons people have for wanting four lanes running through town, at least the conversation is still alive. It seems apparent that there are still those who believe the project would bring about positive change.