WILLMAR -- Traffic on the southwest side of Willmar will be a snarled mess for four to six weeks while crews continue to build a new four-lane, divided highway through the industrial park.
A detour began Wednesday at the intersection of state Highway 40 and Kandiyohi County Road 47, near the Jennie-O Turkey Store headquarters. That's where the new highway, currently called County Road 47, is being joined to an existing road -- the existing County 47 -- on the south end of the nearly mile-long project.
"It's a little complicated going through town," said Gary Danielson, Kandiyohi County Public Works director.
A considerable amount of traffic funnels through the area, including people who work at Jennie-O.
Because of the detour, the Jennie-O employee parking entrance on County Road 47 will be closed until construction is complete. A temporary entrance on the north side of the Jennie-O building has been built for employees, with access from the east on Highway 40.
"That's been helpful," Danielson said.
On the north end of the $4.1 million project, the new highway will intersect with U.S. Highway 12. That part of the process will not involve a detour but will involve some stop-and-go traffic, Danielson said.
New traffic signals will be installed there to accommodate the new four-way intersection. Currently, County Road 5 comes from the north and ends at a "T" with Highway 12.
Once it's done, the new highway will be called County Road 5. It will give travelers a straight shot through the west side of town and will also open up development in the expanded industrial park, which is being built where the old airport had been located.
It's a project that's long overdue, Danielson said.
Along with the congestion and confusion of detours and construction crews, there may be some confusion about what the new highway is and will be called.
Because there is currently a County Road 5 that goes on the west side of Willmar, the new road is being called County Road 47 during the construction phase.
The current County Road 47 is a short section of road that runs north and south between Highway 40 and County Road 15 (which becomes 19th Avenue). The new section of road will link to County Road 47 where it intersects Highway 40.
Federal dollars attached to the project also designate the project as County Road 47.
Once the work is done, the new highway will be called County Road 5.
The current segment of County Road 5 on the west will be given a new number, said Danielson. It's not known what that highway number will be.
The project, which is a cooperative venture between the county and city, began last year.
The main grading of the road, construction of a large water quality treatment pond and box culverts for Ditch 10 were completed last fall.
The second phase of the project includes laying down a gravel base, constructing concrete medians and paving the entire length of the road.
The project is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 1.
So far there haven't been any major problems. "Things have gone pretty well out there," said Danielson.
Duininck Bros. Inc. of Prinsburg is the primary contractor for the project.
Motorists are reminded to slow down for their safety and the safety of the workers as construction continues.