City Council OKs local cost for Highway 12 improvements including Seventh Street Southwest right-turn lane

WILLMAR -- The city of Willmar will participate in this year's U.S. Highway 12 improvement project to the tune of $58,747, under action taken by the City Council this week.

A new turn lane on U.S. Highway 12 at the intersection with Seventh Street Southwest is part of the highway improvement project which will be completed this year. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR - The city of Willmar will participate in this year’s U.S. Highway 12 improvement project to the tune of $58,747, under action taken by the City Council this week.
The city’s participation in the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Highway 12 project are mobilization, signal work at the intersection with Seventh Street Southwest, and storm drainage work on the east end where highway maintenance is planned.
The signal work will be done at the Highway 12-Seventh Street intersection where a new right-turn lane will be constructed. Planning Director and Interim Public Works Director Bruce Peterson said the turn lane will be built as a safety project to separate the highway traffic from traffic turning right onto Seventh Street.
The council approved the expenditure after Peterson showed the council an engineer’s drawing of the proposed right-turn lane. The turning lane was discussed last week at the Public Works/Safety Committee.
But the committee took no action pending review of the plan at the council meeting, reported Councilwoman Audrey Nelsen, committee vice chair.
Nelsen said concern was expressed at the committee that Seventh Street should be widened to accommodate turning traffic. Peterson said the street does get widened slightly to provide a wider turning radius.
Peterson said this was a MnDOT project and has gone through the agency’s design process. He said Seventh Street is a state-aid street and he said everything in the design is consistent with standards that apply to MnDOT design and intersection design for state-aid routes.
Peterson stated recently that MnDOT included the turn lane this year due to pressure from the city and because property was available at the intersection for the turn lane.
He had also said that local funds are available because the city will save about $140,000 this year on Public Works Department equipment purchases.
Councilman Jim Dokken asked council members to remember that the intersection is an important city gateway and will accommodate people getting into the downtown area.
“For me this is an important project,’’ he said.
Peterson said the intersection is one of three gateways that were evaluated last year by a consultant who returned with recommendations to the council for ways to identify them as downtown gateways.
“This project does a great deal to help people get into our central business district as it eliminates a conflict between right-turning traffic and through-traffic on Highway 12,’’ he said.
No additional gateway signs are included in the intersection project. But Peterson said city staff will continue to advocate for the gateway projects as the city reviews the capital improvement program on an annual basis.

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