The American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has awarded the “Willmar Wye” Rail Connector & Industrial Access project a regional 2023
America’s Transportation Award in the Quality of Life/Community Development, Medium Category. Projects for this award were judged based on how they benefited the community, improved lives, contributed to future economic growth, and included public support, community involvement, and effective partnerships.
The Willmar “Wye” Rail Connector & Industrial Access project consisted of a new alignment of TH 12 on the west side of Willmar to prepare for BNSF Railway construction of a new main track and siding. The work included a new TH 12 overpass of the future rail facilities and at-grade intersections with TH 12/CSAH 55, TH 12/CSAH 5, and TH 12/1st Avenue West; reconstructing CSAH 55 with new at-grade intersections at TH 40 and 1st Avenue West; reconstructing TH 40, including a new overpass of the future rail facilities; and realigning 1st Avenue West to remove the existing wye intersection with CSAH 55.
From AASHTO’s website: “This $50 million project delivers a direct rail connection between various freight networks in Minnesota. Known locally as “Willmar Wye,” the venture ensures that fewer trains travel into the residential areas of Willmar and allows for easier freight transport through the area. The project lessens rail traffic congestion at rail/roadway crossings, enhances safety, minimizes delays, improves air quality, and lowers train noise and greenhouse gas emissions while creating a hub for multi-modal shipping. Catering to the growing population, this project incorporated a foundation for economic growth in Willmar; giving businesses the opportunity to expand and bring new jobs to the community for years to come.”