Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Willmar Rail Connector & Industrial Access Project

Willmar Wye

About this projectmap of Hwy 12 showing road open during 2019 and work zone of realignment of Hwy 12

Traffic Impacts

  • There are currently no traffic impacts
  • US Hwy 12 will be open to traffic during 2019

Project Updates

  • Brush removal complete
  • Soil boring operations complete
  • Alternative Technical Concepts approved by City Board May 6 and County Board May 7
  • Detail design is underway
  • Construction is expected to begin mid- to late-June
  • Public open house is scheduled for May 30

Project Summary

Construct a new rail line bypass on the west side of Willmar. The project includes the realignment of Hwy 12 and the reconstruction of Hwy 40, including two new bridges.

Project Timeline

  • Start of road construction: Spring 2019
  • Estimated end of road construction: Fall 2020
  • Start of rail construction: Spring 2021
  • Estimated end of rail construction: Fall 2022

Contractor

Design-Build Contracting Process

    • Roadway will use Design-Build contracting process
    • Design-build is a contracting process that brings designers and contractors together early in the detail design portion of a project. Willmar Wye is a design-build project. For more information visit the links below.
    • Railway final design and construction will be carried out by BNSF

Project Purpose

The Minnesota Department of Transportation and its partners Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), City of Willmar, Kandiyohi County and the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission will add a rail connection between two existing BNSF railway lines and modify surrounding roadways to better move freight through the city of Willmar.

The Willmar Rail Connector and Industrial Park Access Project (Willmar Wye) will provide a direct connection between the Marshall and Morris Subdivisions of the BNSF rail network. Providing this direct connection will decrease the number of trains that need to pull into the rail yard in downtown Willmar. The project also includes a rail spur that will provide access to the city of Willmar's industrial park.

The purpose of the Wye project is to:

  • Provide a direct connection between the Marshall and Morris Subdivisions of the BNSF Railway freight rail network
  • Provide freight rail access to the City of Willmar's industrial park

Project Benefits

  • Improve safety for travelers by reducing at-grade crossing exposure
  • Increase multi-modal opportunities for shippers
  • Encourage economic growth
  • Improve quality of life
  • Delay and emissions savings for travelers (e.g. drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists) by reducing wait times for crossings to clear.
  • Reduce the number of trains traversing through downtown Willmar and the accompanying noise.

Regional Demands

Rail shipments of oil have grown sharply in regions, such as North Dakota’s Bakken energy fields,  that lack sufficient pipelines as alternatives.  Investments in the network are needed to allow network capacity to “catch up” with the new demand.  Production is reported to be approaching 1 million barrels a day with roughly 72 percent of that fuel transported by rail.  These trains are bound for refineries in the Gulf and locally within the Midwest region, while coal cars are bound for export terminals located both in the Great Lakes and on the West Coast.

Grain trains are also frequently delayed, reducing a farmer’s ability to manage market fluctuations and tempering profit margins.  By easing this choke point in Willmar, the project would add much needed capacity in this portion of the rail network.

The Minnesota Comprehensive Statewide Freight and Passenger Rail Plan (MnDOT, 2012) identified the Marshall Subdivision as a corridor that will need investment due to volume and capacity issues.

Project Partners-Contributions/Commitments

      Project partner
      Contribution/commitment
      BNSF Railway $16 million
      MnDOT $17.5 million
      Kandiyohi County $459,000 commitment
      City of Willmar $336,000 commitment of estimated right of way costs
      Kandiyohi/Willmar EDC $35,000 (for economic development)
      Local Road Improvement Program $3.77 million
      TIGER Grant (U.S. Department of Transportation) $10 million