Kandiyohi County has been a railroad hub for more than 120 years. Today, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) handles freight coming through Kandiyohi County, with a main line connecting Chicago to the Pacific coastal states. More than 200 people are employed at the Willmar switching yard, which has three lines and accommodates more than 40 trains a day.
In October 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Grant for Willmar’s rail connector and industrial access wye project. The grant will be used in a $48.83 million collaborative public-private project between BNSF, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Kandiyohi County, the City of Willmar and the EDC to construct approximately 10,000 feet of track between two BNSF main lines and bypass train traffic west of Willmar. Also planned is a rail spur connecting Willmar’s Industrial Park.