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MnDOT: Turnout good for Highway 12 project open house

Nathan Pederson, project engineer with the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s District 8 Headquarters in Willmar, discusses MnDOT’s proposed reconstruction of one mile of U.S. Highway 12 East between Stacy’s Nursery and Haug Implement. Tribune photo by David Little

WILLMAR -- Mark Yungerberg was interested in hearing Monday afternoon how next year's proposed U.S. Highway 12 reconstruction project near the Highway 71 bypass will affect highway users.

Yungerberg manages live-haul for Jennie-O Turkey Store. He said many semi-trucks haul turkeys from Atwater and Litchfield area farms into Willmar for processing. The route into town includes driving over the rough one-mile section of roadway slated for reconstruction.

"It obviously has to be done, and I really appreciate this opportunity to see how they're going to do it,'' Yungerberg said.

He was among about 30 people who looked at aerial photos depicting where the Minnesota Department of Transportation is proposing new pavement, intersection improvements and drainage improvements on the section between Stacy's Nursery and Haug Implement.

"It looks like we'll probably route completely around the project because of the sharp corners, and our loads are so top heavy that I don't want really bad things to happen,'' said Yungerberg.

"We've got a lot of loads coming in from the east, loads coming in all the time,'' he said.

The project needs to happen, he said.

"We just have to figure out how to deal with it,'' he said.

Yungerberg joined other business people and city leaders and officials at a public open house at the MnDOT District 8 Headquarters in Willmar where they offered comments about the project to MnDOT engineers.

"The turnout was good. The questions were good. I thought people were engaged,'' said Nathan Pederson, MnDOT District 8 project engineer.

"I think most of them were curious on what to expect as far as duration and impacts and what road closure and detour means to them,'' he said. "Overall it was lots of questions on what they expect for impacts.''

The project will take place during the summer of 2014. The final design and detour routes have not been determined.

"As we get closer to actually constructing the project, there may be a little more detail to what you can expect and there may an open house with the contractor,'' said Pederson. "That will definitely happen, but that may not be until next spring. If we need another decision meeting on handling traffic, that will happen maybe in the fall.''

Once the design is finalized, another open house will be held to inform people about the project's duration, the business places that will be affected, and detours. Pederson said businesses will have access during the project.

"The road may be closed to through-traffic. But you always will be able to get to your destination,'' he said. "It may take a long way to get there, but you will be able to get there.''

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