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Lakeland Drive, a major traffic route for the city of Willmar, will be reconstructed between Civic Center Drive and Willmar Avenue Southeast as part of an estimated $8.4 million project. The project, if approved, will also replace an inadequate sanitary sewer line under Lakeland Drive with a larger interceptor line to handle present and future sewer needs and replace a deficient sewer lift station next to the MinnWest Technology Campus. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

Public comment next for $8.4M street, sewer work on Lakeland in Willmar, Minn.

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WILLMAR — The public will have an opportunity to comment next month on the facilities plan and environmental impact worksheet for the proposed Lakeland Drive sewer and reconstruction project.

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The Willmar City Council’s Public Works/Safety Committee is recommending the council hold a hearing Feb. 19 to take comments from the public on the facilities plan and worksheet. The council will consider the recommendation at the Jan. 22 meeting.

The normal council meeting date was rescheduled because city offices will be closed Jan. 21 for the Martin Luther King holiday.

The estimated $8.4 million project would replace an inadequate sanitary sewer line under Lakeland Drive with a larger interceptor line to handle present and future sewer needs and replace a deficient sewer lift station next to the MinnWest Technology Campus.

The plan includes reconstruction of Lakeland Drive between Civic Center Drive and Willmar Avenue Southeast.

Bollig Inc. of Willmar was hired by the City Council in October to perform various professional engineering and technical services for the project.  

Paul Jurek, Bollig senior engineer, requested the hearing date. He said both the facilities plan and worksheet are required by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and a public hearing is conducted to encourage public review and comment.

Bruce Peterson, director of planning and development services, told the committee Tuesday that Bollig has been working on the project and said Jurek was present to explain the next step regarding the council’s involvement in the process.

Jurek requested the hearing be held in time to submit the plan and worksheet by the March 1 deadline to the State Public Facilities Authority for financing.

According to a planning schedule presented by Jurek, preliminary design work will end May 16, and final design work will be completed by the end of this year. The council will be asked in January 2014 for authorization to advertise for construction bids and construction would begin in April.

Final design for the reconstructed Lakeland Drive has not been determined. Jurek said a public meeting to discuss roadway options will be May 30 at the fire station. He said options will be discussed, public comments will be taken, and he and the city will come up with a proposed design.

Lakeland is a major city route, and Peterson said the city is looking at all options.

“We’ve been getting calls here at city hall to make it a four-lane with a center turn lane and right-turn lanes. I’m not sure we’ve got the right of way to do that right now. A three-lane with a continuous center turn lane and right-turn lanes placed at the right locations would really aid traffic flow on Lakeland Drive. You’d see a huge improvement.’’

Committee member Steve Ahmann asked if future plans for undeveloped property along Lakeland Drive would affect future traffic flow.

Peterson said the comprehensive plan provides a couple of different options. The property is zoned agricultural right now but is scheduled to be zoned for lower-density commercial development or higher-density residential development in the future.

“We definitely have to be thinking about some increased demands on Lakeland drive due to the vacant property and the potential of that property to generate vehicle traffic,’’ 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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