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Darin Neimeyer, left, and Gary Manzer, both employees with the city of Willmar, change the traffic lanes signs above the 19th Avenue and First Street South intersection stoplight Thursday in Willmar. A third unidentified city employee is pictured at bottom right. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

City modifies 19th Avenue, First Street intersection to handle spike in traffic

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WILLMAR -- Motorists will notice a slight change in the traffic pattern at the intersection of 19th Avenue and First Street South in Willmar.

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The change will allow two through-lanes of eastbound traffic and two through-lanes of westbound traffic to travel through the intersection. The change went into effect Thursday. Up until that time, through-traffic was limited to one eastbound lane and one westbound lane. The other lane was restricted to right turns only.

Motorists will now have the option in the right lane to make a right turn or proceed east or west.

City Public Works Department employees Thursday morning painted new directional arrows on 19th Avenue and hung new signs on the signal mast arms Thursday afternoon. The cost of revising the signal system and sign changes was about $5,300.

City officials were anticipating the intersection change. A traffic study done several years ago indicated two eastbound through-lanes would be required, primarily when the airport road was opened, according to city public works director Mel Odens.

"They said when you open up the road across the airport, (you're) probably going to see that you need to do it. We're seeing that we need to do it,'' he said.

Up until the change, traffic in the eastbound through-lane was backing up to Wells Fargo and the right-turn lane was empty, and likewise traffic in the westbound through-lane was backing up almost past Culver's, said Odens.

"The traffic warrants to go to two through-lanes,'' he said.

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David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150
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