Minn. - Dignitaries from the Minnesota Department of Transportation,
Willmar Chamber of Commerce, city of Willmar, Kandiyohi county and
elected officials opened the Highway 71/23 Willmar Bypass with a
silver ribbon cutting. This marks the completion of a project that
began as a vision when Mn/DOT was still the Highway Department.
Dave Trooien, Mn/DOT transportation district engineer, planning
for the four-lane bypass began in the 1960's and due to a financial
crisis in the 1980's, plans were changed to an interim two-lane
facility. The original two-lanes opened in 1985 at a cost of $9.7
Contractors at that time were Kern & Tabery, Wadena, Minn.,
Mathiowetz, Sleepy Eye, Minn. and Duininck Bros., Prinsburg, Minn.
contractors of the current project are Duininck Bros.and Lakeview
Construction, Glenwood, Minn. The cost of the current project is
$8 million. The new two-lanes opened to traffic on November 13.
The bypass is now posted at 65 mph.
23 is one of 7 Interregional Corridors (IRC's) that connects regional
centers in the state. The completion of the bypass is the beginning
of a $100 million investment that Mn/DOT will make to this corridor
between Willmar and I-94 in the next three years." said Trooien.
(see Highway 23 map).
In a joint message,
Willmar Mayor Les Heitke and county board chair Richard Falk announced
that the city and county plan to construct ramps at Willmar Avenue
in 2004. According to Heitke, the Willmar Avenue connection to the
bypass is vital to the city of Willmar as traffic continues to grow
in the city.
The event concluded
with remarks from Minnesota's transportation commissioner, Elwyn
Tinklenberg. "As we embark on Mn/DOT's next 25 years, we will
continue to create more transportation choices, to strengthen the
economy by moving goods and people safety and efficiently, and to
respond to customers by listening to their needs and providing them
with information they can trust, " Tinklenberg said.