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City completes intersection survey; concept design is next

WILLMAR -- The City Public Works Department has completed a survey for possible safety improvements at the 23rd Street Northeast portion of the Highway 71/County Road 24/23rd intersection, according to Public Works Director Mel Odens. The next step will be putting a concept design together.

Odens said the survey was completed recently. After city paving work is completed this fall, department employees will turn their attention to putting concept drawings together and arrive at design alternatives.

The department will be working on a crash reduction proposal suggested by a citizen and supported by the City Council. The proposal would prohibit eastbound traffic crossing Highway 71 from entering 23rd Street. However, it would allow northbound Highway 71 traffic to turn right onto 23rd Street and allow traffic to turn north from 23rd Street onto Highway 71.

The city's design work follows discussions by the city, Kandiyohi County and Minnesota Department of Transportation and a consultant's report funded by the three entities to reduce crashes at the intersection. A MnDOT official had said most of the intersection crashes occur when eastbound traffic from County Road 24 collides with northbound traffic on Highway 71.

The county and MnDOT have not endorsed the city's idea, however, saying the idea needs further evaluation.

Odens said the city would submit the design to the county and MnDOT.

Besides seeking the approval of the state and county, the city would submit the proposal to a consultant for a third-party evaluation.

"We would want to evaluate the merits of the improvement to see what it would do compared with other options so we can make an informed decision on what we're getting with this design,'' Odens said.

The intersection work will be among projects in the proposed 2010 street improvement list. If the council includes the intersection project, Odens hopes the design could be submitted to the evaluation process by the end of February or the first part of March.

Odens said the city would request state aid funds be used to pay the city's share of project costs because 23rd Street is a state aid route and is eligible for the funding.

Odens reported the status of the intersection project to the City Council's Public Works/Safety Committee on Tuesday.

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