An experiment is seeking to establish stronger transportation links between Augsburg Park Library and an area of poverty in Richfield.
The Richfield City Council accepted a grant last month that will provide $20,500 for temporary crosswalks on Nicollet Avenue – at 71st, 72nd and 73rd streets – near the library and Augsburg Park.
The grant, from the Center of Prevention at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, is meant to promote healthy lifestyles by making the city more walkable. It also comes with a component addressing equity, according to Richfield Transportation Engineer Jack Broz, who explained the project to the city council May 24.
The project was planned using data from the Metropolitan Council that identifies Racially Concentrated Areas of Poverty.
“When we responded to this grant, we recognized that it wasn’t just a public works project,” Broz said.
The enhanced temporary crosswalks will have features, such as vertical markers, designed for visibility, “similar to the success we’ve had on Portland (Avenue) with improving the safety of the crosswalk,” Broz said in reference to the recently reconstructed street.
With the experiment set to run June through August, the crosswalks will be subject to a pedestrian crossing study in addition to a promotional event in which volunteers from the community will parade through the crosswalks, Broz said.
Councilmember Edwina Garcia was party to a discussion at a recent Richfield Community Services Commission meeting where the crosswalks were addressed.
“This is really needed,” Garcia said, “because at that particular street we have so many crossings from so many kids and their parents … either to the park or to the library.”
The project will include an educational component involving the library, too, Broz noted.
According to Garcia, Councilmember Maria Regan Gonzalez, who works for Blue Cross Blue Shield, helped get the city involved with the project.
The temporary crosswalks are in keeping with Richfield’s vision for its changing infrastructure, according to a staff report detailing the project.
“A major goal of the city is to provide safer crossings of busy roadways,” the report states. “Richfield’s major roads can be barriers for people to move around the community. Walkers, transit riders, and bicyclists are challenged by unsafe crossings of these roadways. This demonstration will provide data to be used for design of safer crossings.”
Contact Andrew Wig at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @RISunCurrent.