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MnDOT - US 71 Improvements Project


    Improving US 71

    Willmar, MN

    Welcome to our Virtual Open House!

    In 2021, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will construct $2.5 million of roadway improvements in the approximately three miles of US 71 from the US 71/Hwy 23 split by Point Lake to County Road 24. This virtual open house provides an overview of each roadway change and the detours and temporary street closures that will take place during construction.

    A stretch of Highway 71

    Click the image above to enlarge.

    About this presentation

    Following guidance from state health officials to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has temporarily postponed all public meetings and in-person events. Public engagement on transportation and construction projects remains a priority, and we appreciate you joining us online to learn more about this project.

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    Project Overview

    What is planned for this project?

    In the summer of 2021, MnDOT expects to begin construction on US 71 roadway improvements from the US 71/Hwy 23 split by Point Lake to County Road 24 in Willmar, MN.

    The improvements will…

    • Make the roadway safer by building J-turns at two intersection: US 71 at County Road 90 and US 71 at County Road 24.
    • Add a left-turn option for northbound drivers on US 71 at 41st Ave.
    • Repair pavement on US 71.
    • Replace a drainage culvert at 48th Avenue.

    Continue through this virtual open house for details on the changes to the three intersections.

    Hwy 71 project map

    Click the image above to enlarge.

    [Insert project overview video based on this outline: Insert file path when ready.]

    US 71 and Kandiyohi County 90

    Improving safety at this intersection

    An above-average number of severe crashes occur at US 71 and County Road 90 as drivers on County Road 90 try to cross the highway or merge into its fast-moving traffic. MnDOT received funds from the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) to improve safety by building a J-turn and a pedestrian crossing at the intersection.

    What is a J-turn?

    A J-turn makes it safer for vehicles to cross a highway or merge into its fast-moving traffic by decreasing the number of lanes they need to cross at once.

    What are the benefits of a J-turn?

    The benefits of J-turns are well-known. MnDOT has already installed them at 41 intersections across the state, and it plans to build 23 more.

    A study of before-and-after conditions at eight of the intersections that were rebuilt since 2010 found significant safety improvements:

    • A 100% reduction in fatal and serious injury right-angle or T-bone crashes.
    • A 77% reduction in right-angle crashes of all severities.
    • A 50% reduction in all types of injury crashes.

    They can also decrease wait times for drivers who are trying to enter or cross the highway.

    How do I use a J-turn?

    • Right turns are easier than before with more room to accelerate onto the highway.
    • To go left, enter the highway with a right turn and use a special lane in the center to make a U-turn.
    • To cross the intersection, make the same U-turn and finish with right turn onto the other half of the side street.

    Basic navigation diagram

    Click the image above to enlarge.

    You may already be familiar with J-turns. In 2022, MnDOT will build a J-turn at Hwy 23 and Hwy 9, just 12 miles to the north in New London.

    This video, created for the New London J-turn Project, shows how J-turn intersections work.

    US 71 at County Road 24 and 23rd Street

    Improving safety at this intersection

    With dedicated left turn lanes for drivers on US 71, this intersection already has some of the features of a J-turn. To add additional safe crossing options:

    Smoother ride benefit icon This intersection will receive another U-turn lane to allow northbound traffic to turn to the south.
    Wider paved benefit shoulders icon A new pedestrian crossing will connect 23rd Street and County Road 24.

    Intersection map

    Click the image above to enlarge.

    US 71 and 41st Avenue

    Increasing convenience at this intersection

    Only southbound drivers can currently turn from onto the side street from US 71 due to a closed median on US 71 at 41st Ave.

    • This improvement will partially open the median across US 71 to allow northbound drivers to turn left onto 41st Ave. For safety reasons, drivers on 41st Ave will still only be able to turn right on US 71.

    Intersection map

    Click the image above to enlarge.

    Construction Detours

    What should people expect during construction?

    To construct the US 71 roadway improvements, MnDOT will need to set up a detour and temporarily close access to some side roads. The detours and closures will take place at different times during the construction process to lessen the impact on travelers.

    Southbound US 71 will require a four-week detour for construction.

    To continue southbound on US 71, drivers will:

    • Exit US 71 at County Road 27 and drive to the east
    • Turn right on County Road 9 to drive to the south
    • Use County Road 9 to merge back onto southbound Highway 23 and US 71.

    Temporary Street Closures

    Many of the roads that connect to US 71 and Hwy 23 between the north side of Eagle Lake and County Road 24 will close at various points during construction. However, MnDOT will not close County Road 25 and County Road 24 at the same time.

    Areas with only one point of access to US 71 – for example, the neighborhoods on the north side of Point Lake – will continue to have access during construction.

    Detour Map

    Project detour area map

    Click the image above to enlarge.

    Stay Connected

    Thank you for visiting!

    Questions or Comments

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    It is important for the community to understand what to expect during construction. Please share the link to this virtual meeting with your family, friends and coworkers.

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    Contact the Project Team

    Mark Klema, MnDOT Project Manager, District 8 | (320) 214-6341

    Mandi Lighthizer-Schmidt, MnDOT Director of Public Engagement, District 8 | (320) 214-6426

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