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Roundabout project tops Kandiyohi County road construction calendar for 2019

WILLMAR -- Expect a detour and lots of road construction activity this summer on the west edge of Willmar. Kandiyohi County Public Works is planning construction of a new roundabout, necessitating a traffic reroute while the work is underway. Thr...

Erica Dischino / TribuneVEhicles turn Tuesday evening at the intersection of Kandiyohi County Road 5 and County Road 15 in Willmar where construction of a roundabout will begin after Memorial Day. Motorists on the two roads – also known as 30th Street and 19th Avenue Southwest – will be detoured during the work.
Erica Dischino / Tribune VEhicles turn Tuesday evening at the intersection of Kandiyohi County Road 5 and County Road 15 in Willmar where construction of a roundabout will begin after Memorial Day. Motorists on the two roads – also known as 30th Street and 19th Avenue Southwest – will be detoured during the work.

WILLMAR - Expect a detour and lots of road construction activity this summer on the west edge of Willmar.

Kandiyohi County Public Works is planning construction of a new roundabout, necessitating a traffic reroute while the work is underway.

Three additional projects - two associated with the railroad bypass scheduled to start this year plus routine resurfacing on 19th Avenue Southwest - are on the schedule for the surrounding area as well, along with more than a dozen other road projects scattered across Kandiyohi County.

The County Board heard a preview Tuesday of what's in store for the upcoming construction season.

It's going to be a bigger year than usual. This is the first year that proceeds from a new countywide local option sales tax will be used for a transportation project. Money from the state's Local Road Improvement Program also became available this year to pay for construction of the roundabout at the intersection of County Roads 5 and 15 - roads also known as 30th Street and 19th Avenue Southwest in Willmar.

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The two funding sources bring an additional $5 million to the $10 million or so that Kandiyohi County typically spends each year on highway construction, improvement and maintenance.

Upcoming construction activity will probably be felt most acutely by motorists on the west side of Willmar, where traffic will be detoured while the roundabout is built.

The first phase of the railroad bypass project will add to the road closure challenges that drivers can expect to face.

On top of this, the county plans to resurface two miles of 19th Avenue Southwest this summer and add a handicapped-accessible paved trail on the south side of the street.

"There's just going to be a lot of work going on on the west side of town," said Mel Odens, Kandiyohi County Public Works director.

The schedule calls for starting construction of the roundabout at County Roads 5 and 15 after Memorial Day. The $2.4 million project should be completed by the end of the summer.

There's a two-year window for Kandiyohi County to spend the state funds allocated for the roundabout.

The Public Works staff debated whether to put off the project until next year but decided not to wait, Odens said. "We figured that this year is as good as any. Get it done."

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With several thousand vehicles using the intersection at County Roads 5 and 15 each day, a large volume of traffic will be affected by the pending detour. But there aren't any good alternatives, Odens said. "There's no other way to get around it."

Communicating with the public will be important so they know what to expect, said Rollie Nissen, chairman of the County Board.

Information about the roundabout construction timetable has been shared with the Willmar City Council, but Nissen suggested Tuesday that a presentation be made at a City Council meeting as well, giving the public another opportunity to hear firsthand about the project.

"The more exposure we can get, the better," he said.

Elsewhere around Kandiyohi County, look for the County Road 4 project along the west side of Diamond Lake to be completed this year, along with construction of a federally funded trail.

The first project to be funded by the countywide sales tax will take place this year: reconstruction of 4.5 miles of County Road 40 south of Sunburg. The half-percent local sales tax went into effect in April 2018. It is expected to generate approximately $2 million a year to be spent on designated transportation projects in Kandiyohi County.

The costliest project to be undertaken by the county this year involves the $3.1 million reconstruction of 6.3 miles of County Road 8 north of Lake Lillian.

A deficient bridge just south of Regal on County Road 2 is slated to be replaced this year as well.

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Altogether, 17 projects are on the county's construction list for the upcoming season.

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