WILLMAR — Minnesota Highway 40, which has been closed west of Willmar since last summer because of the construction of the Willmar Wye railroad bypass project, will remain closed at that location until at least next spring, the Minnesota Department of Transportation District 8 announced Thursday in a news release.

Motorists will still need to take a detour around the construction. The detour will continue to direct drivers to use Kandiyohi County Roads 7 and 5 and across on U.S. Highway 12.

MnDOT had hoped to have the highway opened in June. However, a change in the design-build contracting process has put off the completion of the Highway 40 bridge until winter 2020-2021, according to the news release.

MnDOT will be concentrating on completing work on the realigned Highway 12 and County Road 55. Once the construction is completed, the Highway 40 detour will change to have motorists use the new roads. This will significantly shorten the detour.

The road construction portion of the Willmar Wye project is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2021. Hoffman Team is acting as contractor, with Hoffman Construction Company, Lunda Construction Company, and Bolton & Menk Inc. as major participants.

BNSF Railway will begin the rail construction in the spring of 2021, with completion in the fall of 2022.

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.