Willmar council hears details of $3.5M in street projects

WILLMAR -- Nearly $3.5 million in street improvement projects are proposed for 2017 in Willmar. The Willmar City Council conducted the state-mandated improvement hearing Monday night, and Willmar Public Works Director Sean Christensen presented i...

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WILLMAR - Nearly $3.5 million in street improvement projects are proposed for 2017 in Willmar.

The Willmar City Council conducted the state-mandated improvement hearing Monday night, and Willmar Public Works Director Sean Christensen presented information on all the projects.

There were several members of the public in attendance for the hearing.

"We've got three different types of projects - reconstruction, overlay and miscellaneous, which includes (bike and pedestrian) pathway projects," Christensen said.

Only five council members were present at the meeting, meaning the authorization of the projects, approval of plans and specifications and permission to advertise for bids could not take place, as seven votes are needed. Councilors Ron Christianson, Shawn Mueske and Andrew Plowman were excused from the meeting. The council will vote on the street and other improvements at the March 20 meeting.


The estimated total costs of all the projects is $3,450,000. Property owners will pay an estimated $1,513,560 in special assessments, while the city's share is estimated at $1,936,440.

There are four reconstruction projects on the docket this year totaling 0.6 miles - 16th Street Southwest from 13th Avenue to Willmar Avenue; 17th Street Southwest from 15th Avenue to Willmar Avenue; 13th Avenue Southwest from 17th Street to 16th Street; and 19th Street Northwest from U.S. Highway 12 to Gorton Avenue.

Reasons for the reconstruction include worn and weathered surface, uneven surfaces from past repairs, potholes, rutting, cracks and breaks.

Overlay projects include Lakeland Drive Southeast from Willmar Avenue Southeast to Highway 12; 17th Street Northwest from Gorton Avenue to Ella Avenue; and Ella Avenue Northwest from 17th Street to Seventh Street. The roadways are starting to show wear from traffic, along with cracks and patches from other projects.

The Lakeland Drive project will include turn lanes for the new Lakeland Elementary.

There is also a bituminous surfacing and signal system upgrade project scheduled for First Street at the Willmar Avenue and Litchfield Avenue intersections.

Three new bike and pedestrian paths will be constructed this year. Just over a half a mile path will be built on Lakeland Drive, starting 300 feet south of Olena Avenue Southeast to U.S. Highway 12. A new path on Highway 12 will go from Lakeland Drive to 23rd Street Southeast. Both of these projects are a federal path project.

The final path will start at the Sunrise Park lot, at Willmar Avenue and 23rd Street Southeast and will connect with the new path being constructed as part of overall Lakeland Elementary project.


"It connects the trails that are currently not connected," Christensen said, explaining how these projects fit in with the master trail plan.

There was public comment for both the Lakeland overlay and the path projects. Some of the concern was about traffic on Lakeland and what could happen in the future.

"There should be an enlargement of Lakeland. As time goes on there is going to be a lot of traffic on it," Jerry Gesch said.

Christensen said he does not disagree that expanding Lakeland Drive would be a possible solution for traffic. However, the city does not own enough right of way on Lakeland for such a project, meaning land purchases would be needed.

"Traffic on Lakeland will increase, especially with the new school there," Christensen said.

Kelly Welch, who lives in the Sunrise Estates neighborhood along 23rd Street Southwest, said he and his neighbors had concerns about the path, including sight lines and traffic.

"Our greatest concern is for the children and adults" who will be using the path to get to the new school, Welch said.

Welch added the neighborhood would like more study done on how many individuals will be using the path, along with traffic movements.


"The traffic on 23rd Street takes a lot of traffic off Lakeland," Welch said.

Once approved, the projects will go out for bids in April with the assessment hearing and bid awarding taking place in May.

"City anticipates work to begin in June, with substantial completion in October," Christensen said.

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 or direct 320-214-4373.

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