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County to seek state funding for rail corridor overpass

WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi County will ask for $3.9 million in state bond funds this coming year for the construction of an overpass at the south end of the Willmar wye railroad bypass. A resolution formalizing the request was adopted this week by the ...

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Briana Sanchez | TribuneCars cross the railroad off of County Highway 5 on July 22.

WILLMAR - Kandiyohi County will ask for $3.9 million in state bond funds this coming year for the construction of an overpass at the south end of the Willmar wye railroad bypass.

A resolution formalizing the request was adopted this week by the County Board of Commissioners.

It ensures Kandiyohi County will at least get on the preliminary list of capital budget requests. Adopting the resolution now, by midsummer, also increases the likelihood of the project's inclusion when legislators have their bonding tour later this summer.

The $3.9 million state bonding request will support land acquisition, design and construction for a bridge on Kandiyohi County Road 55 to carry traffic over the railroad bypass to be built west of Willmar, starting next year.

Mel Odens, director of Kandiyohi County Public Works, estimates the total cost of the overpass at $7.8 million.

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The county has spent months examining the impact the railroad bypass will have on local roads and planning for optimal ways to move traffic through the mile-long bypass corridor.

The goal is to facilitate safe and efficient travel and to open up access to Willmar's industrial park, Odens said.

County Road 55 will connect traffic with U.S. Highway 12 on the north end of the bypass corridor and Minnesota Highway 23 at the south end. An overpass to be built over the railroad tracks will eliminate an at-grade crossing and create an intersection that allows traffic to flow smoothly onto either County Road 15 or County Road 5.

"For all intents and purposes, it's the least confusing route," Odens said.

The county has already invested about $200,000 in preliminary design, land acquisition and environmental documents for both the bridge and the roadways.

The project will be coordinated with the construction of the multimillion-dollar rail bypass, which is scheduled to start next year and be completed in 2020.

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