WILLMAR—As warmer weather returns, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Hoffmann Group, contractor for the project, are getting ready to restart work on the Willmar Wye railroad bypass project on the west side of Willmar.
According to a project update from MnDOT, crews will begin construction next week on the new U.S. Highway 12 bridge, which will go over the rail line to be constructed by BNSF Railway.
Also next week, grading will be prepared for sidewalk and median concrete at the Kandiyohi County Road 5 and Highway 12 roundabout, grading for the pedestrian trail on the east side of County Road 5 and continued erosion control.
Minnesota Highway 40 from County Road 5 to just west of the Hawk Creek crossing will remain closed until June. Also closed until June is County Road 55 from 1st Avenue on the north to the junction with County Road 5 and state Highway 23 on the south.
Gov. Tim Walz has made MnDOT road construction a critical service under the stay-at-home order and allowed it to remain active during the COVID-19 pandemic. Crews are maintaining social distancing while working, the MnDOT release said.
The road construction portion of the Willmar Wye project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2021. BNSF Railway will begin the rail construction in the spring of 2021, with completion in the fall of 2022.
The new rail track will link BNSF’s Morris and Marshall Subdivision tracks. This will allow trains to travel between them without having to turn engines around in Willmar. The goal of the project is to reduce the number of trains coming into Willmar, decrease train noise and long waits at rail crossings and improve safety.
The project is estimated to cost around $47 million, and is a private-public partnership between BNSF Railway, Kandiyohi County, the city of Willmar, MnDOT and the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.
West Central Tribune by Shelby Lindrud