66th Street reconstruction work moves into east side in Richfield


The reconstruction of 66th Street continues on the west side of Richfield as work is set to begin on the city’s east side next. (Sun Current staff photo by Andrew Wig)

The revamped form of 66th Street is starting to take shape as the reconstruction of the county road continues.

As the corridor is widened from its previous incarnation, crews are preparing to begin work on stage two of the project on Richfield’s east side. So far, construction has focused on the west side, where work will continue as the project expands to the other end of the city.

Since work began this spring, the reconstruction has taken place between Interstate 35W and Penn Avenue.

“We’re making pretty great progress through that area,” said Colin Cox, communications specialist with Hennepin County Public Works.

“It’s starting to come together a little bit more at this point,” said Project Engineer Kyle Johnson, explaining how a new 66th Street is taking shape. “I think people can see the rebuilt road.”

Johnson said about five blocks have been paved thus far. The project is slowly making its way
toward Xerxes Avenue, Cox added.

Reconstruction is scheduled to begin on the east side of Richfield, between Oakland and 16th avenues, on Wednesday, July 12.

Following the completion of the major roadwork during this construction season and the next, the project is on track to be completely finished in September 2019 as finishing touches are added, including landscaping, clean-up and sidewalk work.

Until then, the county is addressing the disruption with an outreach effort to residents and businesses along the corridor. A project representative dedicated to business outreach has been making the rounds as the county works to minimize impacts, according to Cox. Maintaining full business access has “always been an important thing for us at the county,” he said.

“ … It does mean that sometimes people have to drive over gravel to get into a business or have to come in from a slightly different direction.”

While Cox said, “We understand it’s a hardship,” he added that ultimately the county believes businesses will appreciate the improved road and upgraded utilities.

As the county works to keep residents informed, affected neighborhoods are being canvassed with fliers, and “sidewalk meetings” have been held to provide status updates.

“We do very, very frequent door-to-door flyering updates,” said Bre Grand, who is contracting as an outreach communications manager on the project.

As the reconstruction moves to the east side, those charged with outreach are considering the area’s relatively large Spanish-speaking population, according to Cox. The county has been trying to ensure that informative materials come in English and Spanish, which is a new consideration for county road projects, he said.

So far, a project that has promised protracted disruption has been “generally well received by the public,” Cox said, acknowledging that the work is taking place as other road projects hamper commutes around the metro.

“ … We know this is a time when tempers can kind of flare up a little bit, but I think generally things are going pretty good.”

Follow Andrew Wig on Twitter @RISunCurrent.