Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

US 71

Corridor Improvement Project - Willmar

This project is substantially complete.

Corridor Improvement Projects

MnDOT made several roadway and safety improvements along US 71 in Willmar. A map on the project summary PDF summarizes each of the projects, which are detailed separately below. Click here to view a project summary (PDF).

Project update

Friday, October 18, 2021
  • All lanes and intersections are planned to reopen by end of the day Oct. 18
  • Crews will then complete punch list items, including guardrail and erosion control
  • Travelers may encounter brief lane/shoulder closures or heavy equipment entering and exiting the roadway; use caution.

Summary of work

Overview of the new J-turn under construction at US 71 and CR 90

Reduced conflict intersection (J-turn) at CR 90
  • MnDOT received safety funding from the Highway Safety Improvement Program to build a J-turn at US 71 and CR 90 (see photo above taken during construction). A J-turn at this location can address severe crashes by making it safer for vehicles to cross and merge by decreasing the number of lanes they need to cross at one time.
  • In addition, a concrete walkway was constructed between the northbound and southbound lanes and a raised median now separates eastbound and westbound lanes on CR 90 on both sides of the US 71/CR 90 intersection; however, no crossbars are painted on the roadway.
  • Click here to view the final layout for the J-turn at CR 90, and the median construction at 41st Avenue.
  • To learn how a J-turn works and review the safety benefits of a J-turn, visit MnDOT's Reduced Conflict Intersections web pages.
  • The diagram below shows how a driver on CR 90 at US 71 would navigate the new J-turn.
    • Blue arrows: to go left, drivers will enter the highway with a right turn and use a special lane in the center to make a U-turn.
    • Yellow arrows: to cross the intersection, drivers will use the U-turn and finish by making a right turn.
    • Red arrows: right turns will be easier than before with more room to accelerate onto the highway.

Diagram showing how drivers will navigate the J-turn at US 71 and CR 90.

An overview of the intersection of 41st Ave and US 71 during construction
 
Median construction at 41st Avenue
  • The median at 41st Avenue was partially opened (see photo above taken during construction).
  • Previously, this was a right-in/right-out access for US 71, with no median crossover.
  • Northbound traffic can now turn left from US 71 and go westbound on 41st Avenue.
  • Vehicles that are eastbound on 41st Avenue are not able to crossover onto northbound US 71.

An overview of the intersection of 48th Avenue and US 71 in Willmar where a culvert was installed on the west side of the highway.

Culvert replacement
  • A culvert was installed at 48th Avenue (entrance to Sunray Square Cafe & Deli) to improve drainage (see photo above).

An overview of the construction at US 71 and CR 24/23rd St NE

Safety improvements at CR 24
  • A U-turn just north of the CR 24 J-turn was paved, and a left-turn lane constructed to lead into the turn.
  • Previously, it was a gravel U-turn restricted to emergency vehicles only.
  • The U-turn now allows northbound travelers to turn to the south. There is no restrictions - all vehicles can use the turn.
  • In addition, a concrete walkway was constructed between the northbound and southbound lanes to connect to the walking path on 23rd Street Northeast to the east, and CR 24 to the west.
  • The photo above was taken of the intersection as construction was nearly completed.
Pavement maintenance
  • Three miles of concrete pavement was repaired - the southbound lane from just north of Point Lake, where the concrete pavement starts, to the far south end by Willmar Lake.
  • Deteriorated concrete was removed and replaced.
  • The surface was refinished using a process known as diamond grinding. Diamond grinding on concrete is like using sandpaper on wood in that it provides a smoother surface and as a result, a quieter ride.