WILLMAR — Public turnout was light during a 90-minute open house Tuesday afternoon for area residents and others to learn about traffic changes and other details for the U.S. Highway 12 reconstruction project near the Highway 71/23 bypass in Willmar.
Turnout at the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s District 8 headquarters was light probably because MnDOT project supervisor Bill Knofczynski walked up and down the mile-long stretch and talked to each individual business that will be affected by road closure and detours.
Also, MnDOT met last week with businesses to explain the project and answer questions.
“There’s been a lot of public involvement so far on this project,’’ said MnDOT resident engineer Paul Rasmussen, who joined Knofczynski at the open house. “So I think that might contribute to the fewer people here.’’
Also, the highway mainly serves businesses.
“When we have residential streets, we see a lot more people here,’’ he said.
Knofczynski said a subcontractor for Duininck Inc., the prime contractor, will erect detour signs on Monday and work on the $3 million project that spans the Highway 71/23 bypass bridge will be begin Tuesday. Completion is expected in November.
The eastern portion of the project ends one-half mile east of the bridge. This portion requires a detour to allow for removal and replacement of an entire section of pavement. The western edge of the project ends one-half mile west of the bridge. New turn lanes and median extension are planned.
In addition, a right-turn lane will be constructed at the Seventh Street Southwest intersection, and Americans with Disability Act pedestrian improvements will be made from Sixth Street Southeast to Lakeland Drive.
Access will be maintained to local businesses and Kandiyohi County Road 9 will remain open to traffic for the duration of the project, according to MnDOT.
The current concrete surface will be removed and replaced with bituminous surfacing. Rasmussen explained that analysis of maintenance procedure costs of both bituminous and concrete during the 35-year life-cycle determined that bituminous had a lower cost for this particular section of road.
Highway 12 was rerouted to the present location in the 1950s, according to Knofczynski and Rasmussen. In 1980, concrete was placed 0.4 mile east and west of the Highway 71/23 bypass bridge. Joint repair and crack-sealing have been performed since initial construction.
Knofczynski said the majority of businesses along the highway are receptive to the project because the road is in bad shape.
“They said the road needs it,’’ he said. “Their concern was maintaining access to my business at all times, and when we told them we will maintain access to business, they seemed a little happier.’’
Judy Jacobs, MnDOT District 8 public affairs coordinator, said MnDOT will keep businesses and the public informed through weekly update meetings, emails and press announcements.