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A death last week again heated up the discussions about what would be done about Highway 71 and county Road 24 in Willmar. Multiple accidents and a number of deaths have long put the intersection in question.

In January, the county reviewed a consultant’s nine redesign alternatives. They than agreed to a $200,000 design that would close the eastbound and westbound median and prohibit all but emergency vehicles from crossing four lanes of high-speed traffic. Instead only only right turns from County Road 24 and from 23rd Street would be allowed. A new exit would be built for the both the northbound and southbound traffic on Business 71.

The consultant suggested a 80 to 90 percent reduction in collisions at the intersection. The tentative start date was to be 2010, it is hoped that with the latest problems that date will be nailed down.

In the meantime, MnDOT is expected to conduct a speed study to determine if lowering the 55 mph speed limit on that stretch of highway could reduce accidents at the intersection. The numbers suggest that speed has often played a roll in the problems at the intersection.

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