Klobuchar, Franken, Dayton, Peterson announce $10 million to alleviate freight bottleneck in Willmar

Oct 30, 2015 Issues: Transportation

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, Governor Mark Dayton, and Representative Collin Peterson today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded a $10,000,000 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant for Willmar’s Rail Connector and Industrial Access project. There is a significant bottleneck in the current regional rail network that blocks rail crossings and halts local traffic. The project will alleviate congestion, expand rail capacity and improve safety in the region by updating Willmar’s rail infrastructure. The benefits of this project will extend throughout Minnesota and region as it enhances accessibility, efficiency, and reliability of the state’s entire transportation system.

“With the increase in freight rail traffic in Minnesota, it’s absolutely critical that we invest in our rail infrastructure to ensure rural businesses can get their goods to market while improving safety for communities along rail routes,” Klobuchar said. “That is why I worked to help secure a TIGER grant for the Willmar Rail Connector project which will help alleviate congestion, boost economic opportunity, and improve safety in Willmar.

“Investing in Minnesota's transportation infrastructure not only strengthens our economy but also makes our families and communities safer," Franken said. "I worked together with state and local officials to get federal support for the Willmar Wye project because we know how important it is to the region. This funding means fewer trains in downtown Willmar, safer roads, and new possibilities for economic development."‎

"This funding will help make essential improvements to reduce traffic congestion, support area businesses, and enhance the public's safety," said Governor Mark Dayton, who worked with the Legislature last session to invest $3.77 million in the project, and urged the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to provide federal support. "I thank Congressman Peterson, and Senators Franken and Klobuchar for their efforts to secure this additional federal investment."

“With the re-routing of train movement from the middle of town, Willmar residents will be much safer, and traffic throughout the community will improve,” Peterson said. “This is a great example of a public-private partnership that will improve safety, livability and economic sustainability in the community.”

The Willmar’s Rail Connector and Industrial Access project is a public-private partnership including the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), the City of Willmar, Kandiyohi County, the Regional Economic Development Commission, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. MnDOT estimates that the project will return three times its investment in benefits to this rural community and region.