WILLMAR — For a few days last week a large crane towered over state Highway 40, near County State Aid Highway 55, as a new box culvert was installed at the Hawk Creek crossing. The installation is part of the Willmar Wye Rail Connector and Industrial Access project.
Despite the rains, the Hoffman Team, the contractor for the Willmar Wye project, continued pushing forward with construction on the road portion of the rail bypass project. The entire project will include a new section to U.S. Highway 12, two new roundabouts and two bridges over the new rail bypass track.
The existing culvert was removed two weeks ago and a trench for the new box culvert was completed. High winds postponed the installation of the box culvert for a bit, according to the weekly Willmar Wye update written by project manager Paul Rasmussen of the Minnesota Department of Transportation District 8, but the crew was able to install it last week, despite the wind and rain.
The update also said the roundabout construction on County Road 5 is nearing completion. Crews will be finishing putting down the asphalt, installing signs and painting the stripes over the next several days. The road could be reopened either late this week or the following week.
The new rail track will link BNSF's Morris and Marshall Subdivision tracks. This will allow trains to travel between them without having to turn engines around in Willmar. The goal of the project is to reduce the number of trains coming into Willmar, decrease train noise and long waits at rail crossings, and improve safety.
The project is estimated to cost around $47 million, and is a private-public partnership between BNSF Railway, Kandiyohi County, the city of Willmar, MnDOT and the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.