Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News releases

May 9, 2022

Latest news releases

Main detour for Hwy 23 North Gap project begins May 16

WILLMAR, Minn. – The main detour for the Hwy 23 North Gap Paynesville to Richmond expansion project begins Monday, May 16, for all through traffic. Hwy 23 will be closed from Stearns County Road 33 in Paynesville to Stearns County Road 12 (Maine Street/County Road 43) in Richmond. The detour of Hwy 23 will run until November 2022 when the road will reopen for several months. The detour will then be in place again from May 2023 until November 2023 for the final year of construction.

People who live, work, or visit homes and businesses along Hwy 23 will have access to/from Hwy 23 using designated access points along the corridor. Drivers can expect changes and use of alternate entrances as Hwy 23 will be a busy work zone. Residents, business owners, and visitors should watch for construction signs, lane closures, gravel surfaces, flaggers with use of pilot car, road crews, and heavy equipment.

Hwy 23 expansion projects

The North Gap project expands nine miles of Hwy 23 to four lanes, from Paynesville to Richmond. Also, several intersections along Hwy 23 will be reconfigured to improve sightlines, reduce potential crash points, and enhance safety. Work began April 4 to move the Glacial Lakes State Trail. The trail is currently closed until May 13. The North Gap project concludes in 2023.

The North Gap project is part of the three-year Hwy 23 Gaps expansion project which received funding through the Corridors of Commerce program in May 2018. In addition to the North Gap, the South Gap expansion of Highway 23 to four lanes from New London to Paynesville is scheduled for construction from early 2023 through 2024. When the North Gap and South Gap sections are both complete, Hwy 23 travelers will be able to experience continuous four-lane travel from Willmar to Foley.

Additional traffic impacts

Three detours will be required to complete the North Gap project. In addition to the main detour of Hwy 23, Stearns County Road 43 will be closed from Hwy 23 to Fellows Road to replace a culvert and a detour will be in place from June 6 through August 2022. As part of the project, County Road 12 will be detoured for two weeks in 2023.

Project benefits and cost

Benefits of the project include improved traffic flow and freight movement, as well as overall corridor performance, capacity, and safety. Mathiowetz Construction is the contractor for the North Gap project, which will cost $41.75 million.

Work zone reminders

  • Slow down when approaching every work zone
  • Never enter a roadway that has been blocked with barriers or cones
  • Stay alert; watch for workers and slow-moving equipment
  • Obey posted speed limits; fine for a work zone violation is $300
  • Minimize distractions behind the wheel
  • Be patient and expect delays, especially during peak travel times