ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Kandiyohi County Board supports a new Highway 23 project near Willmar

The Highway 23 Coalition continues on its mission to transform Minnesota Highway 23 into a complete four-lane highway from border to border. At the Nov. 1 meeting of the Kandiyohi County Board, the coalition asked for the county's support on a project upgrade for 2.5 miles of the highway on the south side of Willmar.

Minnesota Highway 23 looking toward the west from the 15th Street Southwest bridge at Willmar, Minnesota.
The Highway 23 Coalition hopes to obtain Corridors of Commerce funds to upgrade the stretch of Minnesota Highway 23 from U.S. Highway 71 to the intersection with Kandiyohi County Road 5. The coalition asked for and received Kandiyohi County Board support to try and get the funding.
Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune
We are part of The Trust Project.

WILLMAR — As work on the North Gap of the Highway 23 Gaps expansion project has wound down for the winter, members of the Highway 23 Coalition continue to work on their overarching mission.

Highway 23 sign.jpg
A sign along state Highway 23. Tribune file photo

"We've been working for quite some time on creating a four-lane, safe Highway 23 corridor from border to border," said coalition chair Jeff Bertram at the Nov. 1 meeting of the Kandiyohi County Board.

Minnesota Highway 23 runs from just west of Luverne to Duluth, approximately 343 miles across the state. With work on the gaps to be completed in 2024, it will be a four-lane stretch from Willmar to St. Cloud.

However, there are many other stretches across the length of the highway where it drops back down to two lanes. The coalition wants to see all those gaps turned in four-lane highway.

To do that will require a lot of money. The gaps project between Willmar and St. Cloud alone has a price tag of nearly $50 million.

ADVERTISEMENT

More Highway 23 Project:
The Minnesota Department of Transportation expects to come to a decision in June on Minnesota Highway 23 safety improvements in New London.
The West Central Tribune was witness to many changes in 2022, from elections to education to infrastructure improvements.
Minnesota Highway 23 reopened Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022, from Paynesville to Richmond as work on the Highway 23 North Gap expansion project has paused for the winter. According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the detour will be put back in place next spring until November 2023 while nine miles of Highway 23 in that area is expanded to four lanes.
The section of Minnesota Highway 23 between Paynesville and Richmond is set to reopen to traffic starting Thursday, Nov. 3. The detour will be put back on in the spring, as work is completed on the North Gap four-lane expansion project.
The letter writers call for more investment in infrastruture.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has eliminated the J-turn and stoplight options from further consideration for the New London intersection. MnDOT is now considering an interchange or roundabout at the intersection, in an attempt to make the area safer and easier to travel.
Two self-described "thorns" in the sides of decision makers made it their quest to protect a small patch of Showy Lady's Slippers from construction for the Highway 23 "Gap" project. Thanks to their efforts, the plants were transplanted.

"We are going to make multiple funding requests for different projects along the corridor," Bertram said.

That includes applying for Corridors for Commerce funding for the 2.5 miles between U.S. Highway 71 and Kandiyohi County Road 5 southwest of Willmar. Most of that route is still two lanes.

With the Minnesota Department of Transportation planning to complete construction of the on/off ramps at the intersection of Highway 23 and County Road 5 next year, it would make sense to upgrade the highway as well.

"There is a direct local and regional benefit to the project," Bertram said.

More Kandiyohi County Board:
The letter writer wrote "We believe this information about the change is important to share with all the people in Kandiyohi County. We hope that the commissioners reverse their decision."
An adult health survey will collect valuable data on the health of Kandiyohi County's residents, which will be used for the county's state mandated community health assessment.
The St. John's Roadrunners 4-H club is hoping to be awarded the Association of Minnesota Counties 4-H Community Leadership Award.
Why did Kandiyohi County Commissioners Roger Imdieke, Duane Anderson and Dale Anderson significantly reduce the distribution of public notices from the households of Willmar and the majority of the county?

Bertram asked the County Board to pass a resolution supporting the coalition's drive to get funding for the project. The board unanimously agreed, passing the resolution.

"We really appreciate your leadership and the relationship we have with the Highway 23 Coalition," said Commissioner Corky Berg. "It has really been a good thing for Minnesota and our county."

When the Highway 23 and U.S. Highway 71 bypass was first planned for Willmar, the stretch now being looked at by the coalition was intended to be four lanes. However, a funding crisis required the state to scale back the project.

"It was graded for four lanes many, many years ago," Commissioner Roger Imdieke said, adding he hopes to one day see it completed.

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Shelby Lindrud:
Minneapolis artist Gregory Rose in a visit to Willmar shared how art can be a way to confront trauma, build community and look different at the world.
A Netherlands-based business is looking to build a hemp processing facility in Kandiyohi County or the region. There could also be an opportunity for farmers to plant a hemp crop this season for the company.
Willmar artist Ana Serrano's artwork is on display through January at the Willmar Education and Arts Center as part of the Paints and Pots exhibit.
CCT is still dealing with serious challenges from the lack of drivers to literally waiting years for new buses. Without both, the organization has had to scale back operations in its service area of Kandiyohi, Renville and Meeker counties.
Members Only
The Lower Sioux will be building a hemp processing facility — and the first hempcrete test home — this spring.
The Willmar High School graduate has several of his pieces on display at the Willmar Education and Arts Center as part of the Paints and Pots exhibit.
The board act on issues from environmental services and health and human services
The annual winter celebration is marking its 38th year, and will include traditional favorites including a castle, snowmobile racing, ice fishing and much more.
Matt Runke has served as the deputy surveyor for the past two years and is replacing Duane Bonnema.
The first concert of the year is scheduled for 3 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Willmar Education and Arts Center. Minnesota Orchestra cellist Pitnarry Shin will be performing with WASO for the third time.

Bertram also reported that the Highway 23 Coalition, at its last meeting, discussed the proposed plans for the Highway 23 and Highway 9 safety improvements at New London.

Instead of a J-turn, MnDOT is now deciding between a roundabout or a modified interchange. The coalition passed a resolution supporting the interchange idea, believing it is the best option for the area.

Bertram also requested the County Board think about passing a resolution as well.

"MnDOT really wants to hear from the public," Bertram said.

Kandiyohi County Public Works director Mel Odens and County Administrator Larry Kleindl indicated a resolution would be placed on a future board agenda.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


What To Read Next
Falling enrollment and the end of pandemic relief funds have resulted in a need for budget cuts at Willmar Public Schools. A community task force will have a hand in making the recommendations.
The Hutchinson Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 960 has donated $80,000 to benefit State Veterans Homes.
Sgt. Ross Ardoff, commander of the CEE-VI Drug and Gang Task Force, said six people were arrested in three cities after agents executed search warrants on Monday. The investigation remains active and more arrests are expected, according to a news release.
News about educational achievements among students from west central Minnesota.