WILLMAR -- The Willmar Municipal Utilities Commission has voted to ask the City Council to close Pacific Avenue Southwest from Seventh Street to 10th Street for safety reasons and as part of the utility's long-range plan to improve coal handling and storage at the power plant.
Bruce Gomm, utilities general manager, said motorists are using Pacific Avenue to beat the slow-moving trains to the crossings at Seventh Street and 10th Street. Pacific Avenue borders the north side of the power plant where utility workers are unloading coal cars and working with the plant's coal supply across the street.
Also, the street closure would coincide with the utility's plan to buy land owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway between Pacific Avenue and the tracks. The utility is negotiating with BNSF to buy the land, which the utility is leasing to store coal.
Gomm said closing the street would provide a safer working situation for plant workers.
He also said purchase of the land would enable the utility to construct a facility for coal storage and handling.
-- David Little