Intersection, scene of numerous crashes over past few years, to get thorough MnDOT study

WILLMAR -- An in-depth study of an accident-prone intersection on Business Highway 71 in Willmar was approved Tuesday by the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners.

WILLMAR -- An in-depth study of an accident-prone intersection on Business Highway 71 in Willmar was approved Tuesday by the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has also signed onto the intersection control evaluation study. The Willmar City Council is expected to take action July 21 on the $46,725 contract.

Under the agreement, each of the three entities will pay $15,575. All are part owners of the intersection.

The county controls County Road 24, which comes from the west. The city controls Business Highway 71 and the state owns Highway 294.

The study will be conducted by an engineer secured by the state who is "very sharp," according to Gary Danielson, Kandiyohi County public works director.


Following a road safety audit several years ago, representatives from the three entities have been searching for ways to reduce the "inordinate number" of accidents at the intersection, Danielson said.

In early May, traffic signs with flashing LED lights were installed for the east- and westbound traffic.

Although an accident happened within days of the installation, there have not been any since.

"Maybe these measures will work," Danielson said.

In case they don't work, the study could provide a feasibility analysis of "concrete alternatives" and a budget range for each alternative.

Options, like a roundabout or partially closing the intersection, have been tossed around during the last couple years.

The study would "really put some flesh on alternatives, rather than just talking about them," Danielson said. "It'll give some specific drawings on what could be done there and put a price tag on them."

According to the contract, the goal of the study is to provide a "complete evaluation and report" of improvement alternatives and the impacts, merits, characteristics and requirements of each alternative that could be used for future improvements.


Also during Tuesday's meeting, the county commissioners agreed to implement a staggered abatement of a nuisance at a home in Hawick.

Kathleen Weber told the commissioners that she was unable to meet the deadline to clean up the property because her husband, whom she is divorcing, refused to let her move an unlicensed truck. She said he called and "yelled" at her for moving it just a few feet.

The vehicle's location makes it impossible to remove a gutted mobile home and other solid waste by her house, she said.

Since having an unlicensed vehicle in a R1 or R2 zone is illegal in Kandiyohi County, the commissioners agreed to remove the truck immediately and give Weber two weeks to clean up the rest of the property.

If she's unable to meet the extended deadline, the county will clean it up and assess the fees to the property.

Commissioner Dean Shuck questioned the county's right to clean up some properties but not others. "There are a lot of places out there where you drive down the road and look straight ahead," said Shuck.

Jeff Bredberg, director of environmental services, said the situation in Hawick was triggered by a complaint.

In other action, the commissioners approved a $3,000 grant for the Green Lake Property Owners Association to treat the lake for water milfoil; $3,000 for the Nest Lake Association to purchase equipment for its weed-cutting operation; and $1,500 for continued water monitoring on Lake Wakanda.



Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at or 320-894-9750
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