WILLMAR — It looks like 2020 will be another active construction season for Kandiyohi County Public Works.
"We've got four miles of reconstruction, 32 miles of paving, 45 miles of crack sealing and 256 miles of striping," said Mel Odens, Kandiyohi County Public Works Director.
Odens updated the Kandiyohi County Board on Tuesday during a work session focusing on construction projects.
Funding for the projects will come from local, state and federal sources, Odens said, including the county's local option sales tax. The county can also receive an advance on its state aid funding if it needs it.
"I like to overprogram," Odens said. "That allows us to maximize our funding."
The top project on the county's list this year is the reconstruction of one mile of County Road 8, from state Highway 7 through the city of Lake Lillian. The city is planning an infrastructure project, so the county and city worked together to align the County Road 8 project with the city's plans.
The county also approved two letters of support to Sen. Andrew Lang and Rep. Tim Miller, asking them to request state bonding funds for Lake Lillian's project. The city, which has a population of fewer than 250 people, is facing a gap of $864,600 in funding for its project.
"Lake Lillian has been at the table with us and are doing everything they can to get their project done," said County Administrator Larry Kleindl. "These rural towns struggle. You lose population but you still have the same expenses — water repair, line repair, street repair. When you come up with a gap like this, it is really hard for them to fill."
Another crucial project on the 2020 construction list is constructing 0.3 miles of new road on County Road 5, by the Highway 23 overpass bridge.
"It is nothing more than connecting the bridge we put up in 2016, where you would come off the bridge and curve up to town, like you would expect," Odens said.
This is Phase 1 of the project taking place at County Road 5/15, Highway 23 and County Road 55, that will result in a new road bridge over the railroad tracks and less confusing routes for drivers. This project is also tied into the Willmar Wye railroad bypass project.
"We are doing this last push in three phases," Odens said.
The second phase, to take place in 2022-2023, will be the construction of the Highway 23 entrance and exit ramps at the bridge, with the rail overpass bridge on County Road 55 to follow.
To make sure work doesn't have to be done twice, this year's road construction will be built up to the level of the future bridge.
"It is the least disruption to the traveling public and we feel, long-term, it is the cheaper option," Odens said.
The third reconstruction project will be 2.2 miles on County Road 40 near New London. There will also be 4.5 miles of overlay completed on County Road 40 in Arctander Township, this year's sales tax project.
The county will also be constructing a right-turn lane on County Road 5 in Willmar. This improvement is needed for a new multi-family housing project going up just north of Seventh Avenue Northwest. The developer of the project, JH LLC, will be paying the county back for the work, as is laid out in the tax increment financing agreement between the developer and the city of Willmar.
Other projects include construction of a bituminous trail along County Road 4 on the west side of Diamond Lake and several other bituminous surfacing and overlay projects, including a handful around Green Lake.
In addition to the major construction projects, there will also be miles and miles of crack sealing and striping take place across the county.
"We are trying to get the crack sealing back on a more normal schedule," Odens said.
Odens said this year is not a normal construction year, with both the sales tax and the Willmar Wye adding additional work to the normal construction and maintenance projects the county does. In the past, the county has averaged about $10 million in projects, though Odens would like the average to be closer to $12 million or $13 million going forward.
It will definitely be a busy year for public works and the commissioners are grateful for the hard work the department puts in each year.
"It is so important we stay on top of infrastructure, that we don't get behind," said Commissioner Corky Berg.