WILLMAR — A journey of a thousand miles, or a quiet stroll around tree-lined streets, now begins in the heart of Willmar.

The Selvig International Park in Willmar’s downtown is becoming a “mobility hub” for journeys close and far, thanks to work by the Mid-Minnesota Regional Transportation Coordination Council, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Minnesota’s Department of Transportation, and the Mid-Minnesota Development Commission.

The long trips are made possible by Jefferson Lines. The intercity bus company relocated its Willmar pickup and dropoff location on Aug. 26 to the Central Community Transit bus shelter near Selvig International Park at the Fourth Street and Becker Avenue Southwest intersection, according to Terry Smith, Mid-Minnesota Regional Transportation Resource Coordinator.

The new site is believed to be more convenient for customers than the company’s previous stop at the Lakeview Inn on the community’s north side, according to Smith.

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Jefferson Lines provides daily service to the Twin Cities metro area as well as the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, area, with the ability to connect to thousands of other locations across the country from those points. Jefferson Lines representative Nick Zelle reported that the change to the CCT downtown bus shelter on Fourth Street Southwest is a good move for passengers. The stop, located within the heart of Willmar, is more accessible, highly visible and gives riders improved ability to connect with CCT’s transit services.

The Mid-Minnesota Regional Transportation Coordination Council supported the move to the downtown site. It should improve accessibility for those who may need to travel to the stop by foot or using the local transit bus.

Selvig International Park serves as the starting point for many short trips as well. It is home to a BikeWillmar shared bicycle hub location. It serves as a trail head for multiple walking and biking routes.

“Willmar’s past leaders and planners must have predicted that this area would become a mobility hub for our community,” Smith said in a news release.

He said that former Willmar Mayor Richard Hoglund had successfully promoted the installation of a donated fountain from one of Willmar’s sister cities, Frameries, Belgium, within the small, urban Selvig Park. This now provides a pleasant place for riders to wait for their transit or Jefferson Lines ride.

“(The Mid-Minnesota Development Commission) would love to see additional transportation options added to the location. It’s possible that the park could, one day, be a good location for a shared vehicle service, similar to HourCar a Minnesota-based nonprofit car-sharing service,” Smith said.

Jefferson’s Twin Cities-bound bus picks up at 2:10 p.m. each day at the Willmar stop, while the Sioux Falls-bound bus departs at 2:45 p.m.