Minnesota Department of Transportation

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July 8, 2021

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US 71 improvement projects in Willmar get underway July 13

Expect lane closures and reduced access points; allow extra travel time

WILLMAR, Minn. – After a five-week postponement, several roadway and safety improvement projects along U.S. Highway 71 in Willmar will get underway Tuesday, July 13. Construction traffic control measures will take about two days to be placed, followed by the start of road work. The US 71 work zone will extend from Kandiyohi County Road 24 to Kandiyohi County Road 27, and speed limits will be reduced 10 mph until the project is complete.
Travelers are encouraged to watch message boards along the corridor for upcoming traffic changes and allow extra time for travel. As road work will be next to the traffic lane, drivers should also watch for construction equipment breaking for, entering, and exiting the work zone, and not follow equipment into the work zone to avoid damage to their vehicles.
A summary of the individual projects follows, and work areas are illustrated on the map below.

Hwy71 project map

Traffic impacts

  • Beginning July 13, northbound and southbound traffic will each be reduced to a single lane
  • Beginning July 13, a portion of the US 71 southbound lane near the US 71/Hwy 23 split will be detoured for about three weeks
  • Beginning July 13, northbound access to CR 24 will close for about three weeks
  • The highway crossing at CR 90 will be closed during construction
  • A detour will be in place during a portion of the J-turn project (dates to be determined)
  • Roads along the project route will be closed at various times during construction
  • CR 24 and CR 25 will not be closed at the same time
  • Neighborhoods with only one entry/exit (such as, north side of Point Lake) will always have access

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. 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. Studies show a 70 percent reduction in fatalities and a 42 percent reduction in injury crashes where J-turns are used.
In addition, a concrete walkway will be constructed between the northbound and southbound lanes and a raised median will separate eastbound and westbound lanes on CR 90 on both sides of the US 71/CR 90 intersection; however, crossbars will not be painted on US 71.
To learn how a J-turn works and review the safety benefits of a J-turn, visit MnDOT’s Reduced Conflict Intersections web pages.

Median construction at 41st Avenue
The median at 41st Avenue will be partially opened. Currently, this is a right-in/right-out access to US 71, with no median crossover. Following construction, northbound traffic will be able to turn left from US 71 and go westbound on 41st Avenue. Vehicles that are eastbound on 41st Avenue will not be able to crossover onto northbound US 71.
During construction, the 41st Avenue intersection with US 71 will be closed for two weeks. Homes and businesses on the west side of US 71 can be reached from CR 90 (37th Avenue) when 41st Avenue is closed.

Culvert replacement at 48th Avenue
A new culvert will be installed at 48th Avenue to improve drainage. During construction, the 48th Avenue intersection with US 71 will be closed for one day. Homes and businesses on the west side of US 71 can be reached from the north end of the frontage road.

Safety improvements at CR 24
A U-turn just north of the CR 24 J-turn will be paved, and a left-turn lane constructed to lead into the turn. Currently, it is a gravel U-turn restricted to emergency vehicle use. Once paved, the U-turn will allow northbound travelers to turn to the south. There will then be no restrictions, all vehicles will be able to use the U-turn.
In addition, a concrete walkway will be 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. Crossbars will not be painted on US 71.
Beginning July 13, northbound access to CR 24 will be closed for about three weeks; right-in/right-out southbound access to US 71 will be open. Homes and businesses on CR 24 can be reached using CR 41 (Radio Station Road).

Pavement maintenance
Three miles of concrete pavement will be 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 will be removed and replaced. The surface will be refinished using a process known as diamond grinding. Diamond grinding is like using sandpaper on wood in that it provides a smoother surface and as a result, a quieter ride.
Beginning July 13, a portion of the US 71 southbound lane (the segment near the US 71/Hwy 23 split) will be detoured for approximately three weeks. The detour route uses CR 27, CR 9, Hwy 23; see attached map.

Additional project information
Benefits of the project include increased roadway safety, a smoother road surface and quieter ride, and enhanced pedestrian safety.
The project cost is $2.5 million and Duininck, Inc., of Prinsburg, Minn., is the contractor. Work is scheduled to be complete by Sept. 3. Please note that the start and end dates could change due to unforeseeable circumstances, and that all traffic impacts may not be known at this time.

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