MN House of Representatives’ committee visits Richfield on bonding tour
For something to make an impact, it is better to see it with your own eyes than read about it or see a video. The City of Richfield hopes that is the case when it comes to the proposed 77th Street Underpass.
On Thursday, November 14, members of the Minnesota House of Representatives Bonding Committee visited Richfield to learn more about why the city is requesting $7 million in General Obligation Bonds to complete the project that has been in development since the 1990s.
“The bus tour took the committee members to both sides of the proposed 77th Street Underpass,” explained City Manager Katie Rodriquez. “If the underpass was in place the tour would have only taken two minutes, but because we had to go all the way around the proposed project and get on I-494 it took more than 15 minutes. Several attendees mentioned that they could imagine it taking considerably longer during rush hour.”
City representatives believe the tour was a positive experience for the gathered state representatives.
“The representatives on the tour were very engaged and asked a lot of questions,” said Public Works Department Director Kristin Asher. “They know that the fate of the project and the completion of the I-494 Ring Route are in their hands.”
In almost every way this is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to the 77th Street Underpass project. The project needs to receive the requested $7 million from the state during this legislative session or it will lose an additional $7 million in funding from the federal government.
The House of Representatives Bonding Committee is an important piece of getting the 77th Street Underpass completed. However, the project needs resident help.
Governor Tim Walz will soon begin his own annual statewide bonding tour. Both the Governor and Lt. Governor will tour projects and discuss the benefits of a state bonding package. As part of the tour, he has directed the establishment of a webpage that lists all the bonding requests submitted by local governments that allows area residents to voice their support for the various projects.
The city's number one bonding request is the 77th Street Underpass. The proposed 77th Street Underpass would connect east and west 77th Street under Cedar Avenue, eliminating a critical gap in the minor reliever network in the I-494 Corridor.
The benefits area residents will experience from the overhaul of I-494 and the 77th Street Underpass include minimizing the amount of traffic diverting off of the regional transportation system onto Richfield’s local road system, better pedestrian and bicyclist crossings, and expanded transit services.
Area residents who are interested in helping bring the 77th Street Underpass to fruition are encouraged to voice their support to the Governor by visiting the Minnesota Department of Management and Budget’s Projects to Invest in Minnesota Communities webpage.
Residents can view the page at: https://bit.ly/36pmli4
Over the past three decades, the City of Richfield has made a substantial investment to its transportation infrastructure to pave the way for the I-494 improvement project. The city has spent $142 million to upgrade 76th Street, 77th Street, Penn Avenue and Lyndale Avenue Bridges.
Bloomington too has made a similar investment in its own transportation system to accommodate the future I-494 project.
The final piece that needs to be put in place prior to the start of the I-494 project is the 77th Street Underpass.