PAYNESVILLE - If you are driving on Highway 23, east of Paynesville you many have noticed the new bypass. The recent addition has caused some controversy among the locals.

The new Highway 23 Paynesville Bypass began in mid-April 2010 and was completed ahead of schedule, on July 20.

With the addition of the new bypass local business owners as well as some area residents have mixed feelings towards the recent addition.

Local Shell gas station owner Dave Lenge says that he has experienced a decrease in customers since the completion of the bypass.

"I can't really put a good estimate on it, but I'd say that we've had about 15 percent less" says Lenge.

Sheri's Studio Inc. owner, Sheri Wegner says, "Down town traffic has definitely been reduced. I think some of our businesses have been affected in a negative aspect."

Local Paynesville resident Chelsea Hartman has some safety concerns regarding the bypass.

"When you come into town and get off at the exit to come to Paynesville there are no guard rails. They have not taken the time yet to put up proper guard rails. What is it going to take for them to put something up there? Do people got to die first, or drown for them to put something up there" says Hartman.

Some Paynesville business owners see the bypass as a positive addition to the town.

"I think our business community is changing the tide to turn this into a positive and look for ways to make this a more positive adventure verses negativity over being bypassed" says Wegner.

Blessing Will Gallery owner, Kay McDaniel says, "I don't really see much change…I think the dust has to settle. Right now the bypass is new. It is something like a new toy. We all have to try it. As far as our business goes I don't see any kind of drop in business at all. It's a small town and we really work hard to promote it. ..I think in the long run more people will move out here and live in Paynesville because now they have easier access to get to Willmar and St. Cloud."