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Road diet case study

Sweet Streets Program in Richfield

In 2013, the City of Richfield initiated a six-year city-wide program to simultaneously improve city utilities and local streets. That program was branded as “Sweet Streets Richfield.” Well maintained city streets with new trails, sidewalks, and safer crossings are a major component of the Sweet Streets program and efforts to improve arterial roads. Road diets have been implemented on Portland, Nicollet, and Penn Avenues – all with traffic levels of approximately 12,000 vehicles per day.

Through investments in transportation and utilities, Richfield has improved the city’s appeal for new development and its appeal to young families. In 2016 and 2017, the Star Tribune newspaper listed the City of Richfield as the hottest housing market in the Twin Cities region.

About Richfield

  • Population is 36,000 and the city is seven square miles.
  • Formerly viewed as a bedroom community to Minneapolis with a lagging tax base.
  • Ringed and divided by highways.
  • Steadily replacing aging infrastructure from the 1970s.

Funding

A successful referendum in 2013 increased the franchise fee (service charge) on utility bills. The expected revenue over 20 years enabled the city to issue $20 million in bonds. Richfield is using the bond funds to mill and overlay 85 miles of residential streets while also burying utilities and adding bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. This effort will take six years to complete. (Richfield does not access property owners for road and sidewalk improvements.)

Projects on city streets in Richfield

  • West 76th Street between I-35W and Cedar Avenue reconstruction for a sewer project. Average daily traffic volume is 2,500 vehicles on east end of corridor and 12,500 on the west end
  • 70th Street bicycle route (2 miles in length) as part of a mill and overlay project on low traffic road. Parking was removed on the north side of street for much of the route (finished 2017).
  • Northwest Richfield Bicycle Routes on 2.5 miles of bicycle routes on north/south and east west routes in the NW part of the city as part of mill and overlay projects (completed)
  • 69th Street Pedestrian Improvements between Xerxes and Penn – half mile of sidewalk, with and without boulevard, and an on street path (completed 2017)
West 76th Street before reconstruction

West 76th Street after reconstruction

Projects on county roads in Richfield

  • Portland Avenue from 67th to 77th was rebuilt as a three lane road with a multi-modal focus (finished 2016). Approximately 12,000 vehicles per day.
  • 66th Street from Xerxes to 16th will be fully reconstructed. The roadway will have new pavement, new lane configurations with a protected bikeway, raised pedestrian medians, and improved storm water management. (completion approximately 2018).
  • Lyndale Avenue 4 to 3 lane conversion from 66th street to 76th street (planned for 2019).
Portland Avenue before reconstruction

Portland Avenue after reconstruction