Weather Forecast


City OKs easement for quiet zone at railroad crossing on Willmar Ave.

WILLMAR — The Willmar City Council has approved an easement with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to construct a quiet zone at the Willmar Avenue Southwest crossing.

The easement is needed because the city is changing the location of the crossing, said Ron Christianson, chair of the council’s Public Works/Safety Committee. The committee recommended the council approve the easement.

The easement for the piece of ground measuring 100 feet by 100 feet will provide the width necessary for the city to construct the quiet zone. BNSF requested $15,000 for the easement, which is slightly more than the $12,500 appraisal obtained by the city.

Bruce Peterson, interim public works director, believes the higher price is worth it to avoid delaying the project.

The city has not yet advertised for construction bids for the crossing work, but is proposing to build the crossing this summer. Revenue from the local option sales tax will pay for the easement and associated realignment of Willmar Avenue that will be constructed in the old airport/new industrial park.

According to Peterson, the realigned Willmar Avenue will be the main connector through the industrial park. The sales tax was primarily intended for redevelopment of the former airport and the Willmar Avenue work is a necessary transportation link into that park.

The existing portion of Willmar Avenue between 22nd Street Southwest and Industrial Drive (former state Highway 40) will be eliminated. A portion currently serving as an entrance to the Jennie-O Turkey Store parking lot will become a driveway.

Christianson said a constituent asked why the city is not doing a quiet zone at the Trott Avenue Southwest crossing. Christianson said the city will be doing a quiet zone at the Trott Avenue crossing. The Trott Avenue quiet zone is among this year’s street projects, he said.

In 2005, the Federal Railroad Administration enacted rules that allow quiet zones to be established at railroad crossings, provided certain safety measures such as full-width crossing gates and center medians are used to prohibit motorists from crossing the tracks when a train is approaching.

Also Monday, the council voted to petition Kandiyohi County to transfer authority over County Ditch 23A and its three associated branches located inside the city limits from the county to the city. The Public Works/Safety Committee recommended the council approve the petition. The County Board will hold a hearing on the petition June 4.

State law allows the city to petition the county to transfer the ditch system inside the city limits to the city. The transfer will provide for the city’s orderly management of storm water without obtaining permission from Kandiyohi County and downstream ditch property owners outside of the city’s corporate limits.

Under state law, costs associated with transferring water management authority from the county to the city will be the responsibility of the city. At the time of transfer, the ditch is required to be in good condition and not needing repair, said Christianson.

Council member Steve Ahmann asked whether the city or county requested the petition.

Peterson said the city will be able to make ditch improvements within the city that affect the city’s storm water system without needing permission from downstream property owners.

“At the committee level it was determined that this was sufficient reason to petition for the segment of the ditch to come under municipal jurisdiction,’’ he said.

Peterson added the county will perform work in the ditch this summer at no cost to the city. The work was already contracted before the city’s petition.

Also, the council voted to amend the western interceptor sewer budget to include the cost of extending a sewer line into the new industrial park.

The council in March authorized design work for extending a 2,400-foot sewer line from an aging wastewater lift station at the old airport terminal building to the western interceptor.

The $345,000 additional estimated construction cost will increase the western interceptor budget to $4,882,179.

The interceptor sewer will run along County Road 5 from U.S. Highway 12 to the southern interceptor, which carries waste to the new treatment plant located west of the city.

The western interceptor will serve the new industrial park and will improve sewer service to the city’s northwestern area.

The extended sewer line from the interceptor to the old terminal site will be constructed in the Airport Drive Southwest boulevard.

The project will be financed with a combination of city sewer rates, state grant and loans, and revenue from the local option sales tax.

In other business, the council declared costs to be assessed against affected property owners and ordered preparation of the assessment roll for this year’s street improvement projects and set May 6 as the date for the assessment hearing.

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