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City spends time clearing intersections

Mounds of snow have been trimmed away at intersections like this one on Willmar Avenue -- evidence of the city's efforts to open up intersections to provide drivers in Willmar with better visibility. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

WILLMAR -- Public Works Department employees have been spending more time on snow-related activities this winter than in past winters, particularly removing snow piles at Willmar intersections.

The piles have been obscuring the view of motorists venturing through and making turns at intersections this winter. The snow has been piling up because there's been less wind this winter to blow the boulevards clear of snow and less snow has melted, explains Willmar Public Works Director Mel Odens.

This winter's 43-inch snowfall has been consistent with snowfalls in previous years, but for the most part, nothing has melted down or blown clear.

"It's just been piling up,'' Odens said. "Nothing has melted in the meantime and nothing blew around, so it pretty much stacked up vertically.''

Odens said the piles are being removed because there has been a greater-than-normal number of complaints about reduced visibility at intersections and more angle-type crashes as a result.

"I receive the accident reports and you get a sense of some of the problems out there, so you try to get ahead of them a little bit,'' he said.

The department has had six to eight trucks and two front-end loaders doing snow removal. The snow is dumped on the runway and taxiway at the old airport. When the snow melts, the water will run through a grass buffer to filter out sand and nutrients before the water enters a storm sewer or ditch, he said.

Odens said the department has done the arterial streets, such as Willmar Avenue, Trott Avenue and Becker Avenue.

"It's in the hundreds of intersections that we've opened up,'' he said.

Besides tackling the intersections, the department has had two snow blowers removing the snow to the curbs to widen the driving lanes.

Odens said snow removal ended Friday and employees will be turning their attention to tree-trimming and filling potholes. Those activities took a back seat due to this winter's snow-related work, he said.

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