Highway 23 Coalition members speak with legislators in Washington D.C.

Bailey Hovland
Highway 23 Coalition / Congressman Collin Peterson, Congressman Tim Walz, Commissioner Roger Imdieke, and Public Works Director Mel Odens are all smiles after a meeting where they discussed the Highway 23 Coalition and the Willmar Railroad Wye Project on April 18.

WASHINGTON D.C. —  Commissioner Roger Imdieke, and Public Works Director Mel Odens, both members of the Highway 23 Coalition, traveled to Washington D.C. last week from April 17-19 to meet with the Congressional delegation on transportation issues.

There, they had the opportunity to update some Minnesota-elected officials on the Willmar Railroad Wye Project and Highway 23 and to answer any questions the legislators might have. 

Senator Tina Smith and her staff sat down with Imdieke and Odens on April 18 to outline what the Highway 23 Coalition’s goals and the

community support behind the initiative. Later in the day Congressman Tom Emmer, Congressman Collin Peterson, Congressman Tim Walz, and Congressman Rick Nolan met with Imdieke and Odens to discuss the Willmar Wye Project and its connection to the Highway 23 Corridor.  

“The Willmar Wye Project will greatly enhance the accessibility and reliability of the region’s transportation system. Moreover, the project will improve safety and road congestion by reducing the number of trains passing through downtown Willmar. It is important to reach the necessary agreements and secure the required permits as soon as possible in order to advance the project,” said Peterson. 

The Wye Project provides spur line access to enable multimodal transport in the area, thereby a beneficiary from the completion of the four-lane gaps on Highway 23.

Senator Amy Klobuchar’s staff discussed the potential highway projects over coffee with Imdieke and Odens on April 19th. Both coalition members were also able to meet with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Railway Administration to discuss both initiatives. 

“This was a good opportunity to update our Washington Congressional delegation on the Willmar Wye project and answer any questions.  We emphasized that the partners are working hard to bring this project to fruition.  We wanted our delegation and the agencies to understand our agency,” said Odens.

He further explained that, “all the Congressional delegation expressed appreciation for us making the commitment to travel to Washington, D.C. The delegation said they are on “stand-by” to help out in any way they can to make this project a success.”

Odens and Imdieke’s trip laid the groundwork for the Highway 23 Coalition’s future visit in May, where a larger group of coalition members will also travel to Washington D.C. from May 22-24. 

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