Populous and diverse, our district balances the elements of urban life with tree-lined streets and city lakes. We have skyways and bike trails. Skyscrapers and suburbs. For every sport enthusiast, there’s a team in close proximity. For every arts fan, there’s a famous museum or two, a theater or two, or a music venue a short drive away.
Each of our cities has its own unique character, whether Minneapolis, Brooklyn Center, Robbinsdale, Golden Valley, Fridley, or St. Louis Park—and the strength of our infrastructure is integral to our quality of life. It’s also an equity issue. High quality systems mean everyone is served equally and can access safe roads, structurally sound bridges, and clean water.
Investment in our infrastructure will bring jobs and greater safety to our communities. Our legislators need to hear from us. Click the Raise Our Grade button and let them know you support investment in our infrastructure.
Our district’s urgent needs
Infrastructure projects will address critical problems, prepare structures for current and future capacity, and maintain, expand, and improve essential systems. Much-needed funding will cover design/engineering, materials, and construction.
A Short Story of Infrastructure: A City For The Future
Before World War II, you’d have seen grazing cows—not houses—on this land 8 miles south of Minneapolis. But as military personnel returned from the war, farm fields rapidly became modest single family homes and lawns. Streets were graded. Eventually, septic tanks were replaced with water mains and sewer pipes. Storage systems for clean, safe drinking water were developed.
Like other suburban neighborhoods of the time, Richfield grew explosively. In 1950, fewer than 3800 people lived in Richfield; by 1954, almost 31,800 people did. When the nation’s first indoor mall, Southdale, was built in an adjoining suburb in 1956, Richfield’s reputation as an ideal place to raise a family was well established.
Infrastructure Aging Out
The people and businesses of Richfield have always depended on clean drinking water, wastewater treatment, and a high quality stormwater system for pollution and flooding control. But it’s been 70 years since those water mains and pipes were installed under Richfield streets. The original clay pipes are growing thin and brittle with age. Some are breaking.
In addition, the population has grown. As people and businesses move to the area, usage of the city’s pipes and lift stations increases dramatically.
Climate change brings rain events that put a strain on existing systems. Old stormwater pipes with 60” diameter are inadequate. Some of today’s pipes should measure 90” in diameter to manage the flow of water.
As Minneapolis’ oldest suburb, Richfield uniquely symbolizes the coming need for infrastructure investment. Improvements and proactive repair have been delayed for decades due to inadequate funding. That gap is creating a growing concern about how much longer older systems will last.
Water emergencies are inconvenient. They’re also hazardous to human health and expensive. City engineers and workers know that the time they spend responding to emergencies could be spent installing strong new infrastructure that prepares Minnesota for the future. Without an increase in funds, the pressure to play defense will remain intense. It is estimated that 80% of Richfield’s sewer system will need repair or replacement in the next 3-5 years. That means more breakage, more back-ups, and more sewage in basements and streets. It’s simply the reality that all cash-strapped cities now face.
Decades ago, Richfield represented all that was innovative and new in water infrastructure. Today, the city joins hundreds of other Minnesota communities in need of water infrastructure refurbishment or replacement.
Funding For Quality of Life
The American Society of Civil Engineers graded Minnesota infrastructure in 2018 and gave the state a C grade overall and our roads a D+. It’s past time for investment in our water systems—not to mention our airports, ports, dams, roads, and bridges. Public infrastructure and assets are part of our Minnesota quality of life. They ensure our ability to compete in the world. They contribute to our safety, our economy, and our convenience. We must have infrastructure spending now to maintain our quality of life—and to assure a good life will be possible for our children and grandchildren in the future. We must Raise Our Grade, Minnesota.
Story images © City of Richfield
Funding for Quality of Life image © Minnesota Department of Transportation