Word on the streets: July 2016

Interim facilities to be installed on sections of the Downtown Loop

“Interim facilities”: boring words, important concept! Because of the significant amount of cash that needs to be raised, it’s likely to be a while before the city is able to build out the rest of the Downtown Loop. In the meantime, people on bikes need safe ways to get into and out of downtown St. Paul.

To address this need, the St. Paul Public Works Department is planning to build interim facilities on certain streets included in the plan for the Loop. As they’re currently being described, these interim facilities are nothing to shake an interim stick at. While limited to sections of the Loop where the pavement condition is good enough to be able to handle these treatments, the facilities that are being proposed are high-quality and would create new bike connections between downtown and the rest of the city.

They would include a protected bike lane with bollards and a buffer area on 9th and 10th Streets, as well as facilities on the north half of St. Peter Street (the fate of the southern half is a little more complicated and will be decided later). This would create much better access to downtown for those coming from the north and west. There is also a plan to connect the bike path being constructed on Jackson to the Sam Morgan Trail, enabling access from the south. Public Works is still evaluating whether interim bike lanes will be feasible on Minnesota Street as a connector within downtown, given the condition of the pavement.

We’re likely to start seeing the protected bike lanes installed in 2017 or 2018. If all goes according to plan, this could be a big improvement for biking in downtown St. Paul.

Bike lanes on Upper Afton

After delaying a decision for a few weeks to give residents a chance to weigh in on an updated plan, the city council voted to approve bike lanes on both sides of the street on Upper Afton Road. These bike lanes would be added this summer during a street resurfacing between Burns Avenue and McKnight Road.

St. Paul Women on Bikes felt that this was the safest option of those under consideration by the city council, and so we are happy to see it approved. This bikeway will add a much-needed connection to parks, homes, and neighborhoods in an area with few on-street bike facilities.

4th Street Market District officially recognized in city plans

We’re excited that the city has included the 4th Street Market District in its vision for downtown St. Paul, with a planning study to be undertaken soon. This is an important step in bringing this community-supported concept from idea to reality.

The city is also planning a demonstration project on 4th Street that would showcase some of the possibilities for revitalizing the street. This demonstration will focus mostly on placemaking and will hopefully get downtown residents, visitors, and workers enthused about what this street could look like.