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MnDOT - US 71 Improvements Project


    Improving US 71

    Willmar, MN

    This meeting is now closed.

    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 spring 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 intersection of US 71 and County Road 90 safer by building a J-turn.
    • Complete the partial J-turn at US 71 at County Road 24 to improve safety.
    • Add a left-turn option for northbound drivers on US 71 at 41st Ave.
    • Repair about three miles of concrete pavement on southbound US 71.
    • Improve drainage at 48th Avenue, the entrance to Sunray Square Café & Deli.

    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.

    New Intersection: J-Turn

    Understanding this intersection type

    What is a J-turn?

    A J-turn makes it safer for vehicles to cross a divided highway or merge into its fast-moving traffic by decreasing the number of lanes they need to cross at once. You may already be familiar with J-turns. A partial J-turn has been in use near CR 24 in Willmar for over 10 years.

    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 dramatic 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.

    US 71 and Kandiyohi County 90

    Improving intersection safety

    A number of severe crashes have occurred at the intersection of US 71 and County Road 90. 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 will change?

    Basic navigation diagram

    Click the image above to enlarge.

    US 71 at County Road 24 and 23rd Street

    Improving intersection safety

    Currently this intersection is considered at partial J-turn as it only has one U-turn. Constructing a second U-turn in 2021 will complete the J-turn intersection, allowing northbound traffic to turn to the south. 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.

    What will change?

    Intersection map

    Click the image above to enlarge.

    US 71 and 41st Avenue

    Increasing intersection convenience

    Due to a closed median on US 71 at 41st Ave, northbound drivers cannot make a left turn onto 41st Ave.

    • This improvement will partially open the median across US 71 to allow northbound drivers to access 41st Ave with a left turn.
    • For safety reasons, drivers on 41st Ave will not be able to turn left onto northbound US 71.

    What will change?

    Intersection map

    Click the image above to enlarge.

    Pavement Maintenance

    Smoother roadway surface

    MnDOT will repair about three miles of concrete pavement on southbound US 71 to smooth the roadway surface.

    What will change?

    Pavement resurfacing 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 the interchange ramp to merge onto Hwy 23 and reenter US 71/Hwy 23

    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.

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    Questions or Comments

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    Contact the Project Team

    Mark Klema, MnDOT Project Manager, District 8 | (320) 212-0830

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

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    Comment Form

    This project is now closed. Please visit the Stay Connected slide for contact information.