Richfield has secured $7 million in federal funding to build a $22.5 million tunnel linking the city to the Mall of America and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The underpass, which the city has wanted for more than 20 years, would run beneath Hwy. 77. The $7 million was received last month through the Metropolitan Council and can be used only for tunnel construction, City Manager Steve Devich said.

But construction can’t begin until the city purchases a Motel 6 at 77th Street and Cedar Avenue S. “The biggest unknown is how much we’re going to have to pay for Motel 6,” Devich said.

So far, Richfield has received $12.5 million in state funding and $1.5 million from Hennepin County for the project. The city expects to start construction this year or in 2018.

Miguel Otárola

West Metro

Record number of lake groups reached

Thanks to two new lake associations in 2016, the west metro area now has a record number of 30 citizen-led lake groups.

That’s according to the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, which says that the number of lake associations working to protect their waters has reached an all-time high.

The two newest groups are the Friends of Lake Hiawatha in Minneapolis, formed over concerns about trash flowing into the lake from local streets, and Long Lake Waters Association in Long Lake, which was formed due to water quality issues.

“We are excited to see the enthusiasm our residents have for protecting water quality in their neighborhoods,” Darren Lochner, the watershed district’s education manager, said in a statement.

Kelly Smith


Spencer appointed to fill District II vacancy

The Bloomington City Council last week appointed Eldon Spencer to fill the council vacancy left by former Council Member Andrew Carlson’s ascension to the Legislature.

Spencer will fill the District II seat, which represents the city’s southwestern precincts. A Minneapolis lawyer, Spencer attended Harvard Law School and is the former chairman of the city’s planning commission. His term will expire at the end of the year.

Thirteen candidates applied for the council seat earlier this year. The City Council interviewed four finalists for the position on Feb. 16, according to City Manager Jamie Verbrugge.

Miguel Otárola


Maltman kicks off third year of READS event

The Wayzata READS program will host author Thomas Maltman next month to discuss his second novel, “Little Wolves.”

Maltman, who teaches at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, won several awards for his first novel “The Night Birds.” His essays, poetry, and fiction have been published in many literary journals.

The event will take place from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on March 9 at Wayzata City Hall, 600 Rice St. E. Copies of the book are available at the Wayzata Library.

The Wayzata READS program started in 2014. For more information, call 612-543-6150.

Kelly Smith

Scott County

NWS designates Scott County ‘StormReady’

Scott County on Monday became the third metro area community to be recognized by the National Weather Service as a StormReady community.

Emergency Management Director Capt. Scott Haas accepted the award, which recognizes the county for its emergency preparedness relating to severe weather. To win, officials had to demonstrate how they continuously monitor weather and establish several ways of notifying the public of impending storms.

SAFCOM, a volunteer group that assists emergency managers with preparedness activities such as weather spotting and emergency levee building, helped earn Scott County the distinction.

Liz Sawyer


Residents to be surveyed about sound wall

The Burnsville City Council and Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) will survey residents about a proposed $1 million sound wall along Interstate 35E, a decision approved by the council at its Feb. 14 work session.

The project would reduce interstate noise for residents living on Plymouth Avenue between County Road 42 and Portland Avenue. If it proceeds, Burnsville would be responsible for 10 percent of the wall’s cost. Construction wouldn’t happen for several years, according to a city memo.

MnDOT had been considering a soundwall at Hwy. 13 and Horizon Drive, but abandoned the idea because it wouldn’t have significantly reduced noise for residents.

Erin Adler