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Groundbreaking ceremony is Saturday for Hwy. 23 bypass

WILLMAR -- Groundbreaking for the Highway 23 Paynesville bypass project is being held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

Crews will begin work on the $32.4 million, three-year project on Monday.

The ceremony will take place on Veterans Drive west of Highway 23 in Paynesville. Speakers will include Paynesville Mayor Jeff Thompson.

The 7.5-mile, four-lane divided bypass project is located north of New London, from east of Kandiyohi County Road 6 to west of 263rd Avenue in Paynesville. It includes grading, paving, construction of eight bridges and lighting.

The initial phase of construction will begin with grading and bridge operations south of the Crow River and First Street. A second grading operation will start north of the Canadian Pacific Railroad.

During the 2010 construction season, a total of four bridges will be constructed, including additional grading operations. The project is expected to be completed in August 2012.

Highway 23 traffic will not encounter delays during the first two years of construction. The project will improve mobility and safety for the traveling public along the Highway 23 interregional corridor and allow Highway 23 to remain an important connection between Willmar and St. Cloud, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

KGM Contractors, Inc., of Angora, is the prime contractor for project.

Weekly public meetings will be held at 1 p.m. on Thursdays at Olson Trucking near Stearns County road 130 in Paynesville.