Willmar Wye making visible progress as bridges are constructed


WILLMAR—Eleven months after construction began on the Willmar Wye project, progress continues to be made on several aspects of the project, according to the weekly update from the Minnesota Department of Transportation District 8, based in Willmar.

The bridges that will one day span the new rail track are starting to rise, with construction on the pier caps ongoing for the U.S. Highway 12 bridge. Also, work was done last week on embankments on Kandiyohi County Road 55 north and south of state Highway 40; muck excavation and backfill on County Road 55 north of the new Highway 12 and grading the new 45th Street Northwest north of Highway 12 and the BNSF Railway.

This week the Hoffman Team, the construction team working on the Willmar Wye road construction, is planning to finish the pier caps on the Highway 12 bridge and begin construction of the abutments, placing the aggregate base on the new Highway 12 and placing light bases and electrical conduit at the Highway 12 and County Road 5 roundabout.

As part of the construction, there are still detours in place. Highway 40 from County Road 5 to just west of the Hawk Creek crossing remains closed, though the MnDOT update said it is expected to reopen in June.

Also closed is County Road 55 from 1st Avenue West on the north to the junction with County Road 5 and Highway 23 on the south. MnDOT is asking drivers to proceed carefully if traveling in the area.

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

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