Willmar Wye project earns environmental sign off from FRA, FHWA

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
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A typical crossing delay at 7th Ave. in Willmar, Minn.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Federal Highway Administration have signed the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) document for the Willmar Rail Connector and Industrial Park Access Project (Willmar Wye).


The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) says the signing of the FONSI means the environmental portion of the project is now complete.

The Willmar Wye project will add a rail connection between two existing BNSF lines and modify surrounding roadways to better move freight through the city of Willmar, Minn. The project will provide a direct connection between BNSF’s Marshall and Morris Subdivisions, which will decrease the number of trains that need to pull into downtown Willmar’s rail yard. The project will also build a rail spur to the city of Willmar’s industrial park.

The $48-million project was awarded a $10-million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant in 2015. MnDOT is contributing $17.5 million to the project and BNSF has committed $16 million with the remainder being contributed by local road improvement programs, the city of Willmar, Kandiyohi County and the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.

MnDOT says the next steps for the project include right-of-way acquisition, completion of agreements and permits, final design and construction of the roadways. MnDOT estimates the roadway project bid will be released in December 2017.

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