Saint Paul’s decades-long effort to reconstruct its residential streets with new curbs, gutters, sidewalks, streetlights and boulevard trees will continue across the city in 2021-25. The Residential Street Vitality Program (RSVP) got underway in 1995 with a to-do list of 88 projects. Sixty-eight of those projects have been completed in the past 25 years, according to Paul Kurtz, an engineer in the city’s Department of Public Works. It is expected to take another 25 years to complete the last 20 projects, he said.

Several local projects are included in the five-year Saint Paul Streets Plan that the City Council reviewed on November 18. Saint Paul Streets is the new name for RSVP. The five-year plan includes city street and bridge reconstruction projects, city and county mill and overlay projects, city sidewalk replacement and state and federally funded road work.

When RSVP began 25 years ago, Saint Paul was able to do three or four street reconstruction projects in a single season. However, costs have risen much faster than city funding. Some projects, like the Griggs-Scheffer project in Highland Park, have been extended over several years. Griggs-Scheffer began this year and is expected to be completed in 2021.

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City Council president Amy Brendmoen said that by the time all of the residential streets are reconstructed, the city will have to go back and reconstruct the streets that were done in the first years of RSVP. “We’re not getting this done,” she said.

Saint Paul Streets projects are chosen according to the relative condition of the streets, Kurtz said, and streets are regularly reevaluated to see if they need to be moved up or down on the work schedule. While the city was able to carry over as much as $1.3 million in funds from 2019 to 2021, that is not enough to fully address the need.

The second phase of the Griggs-Scheffer project, for example, will require $12.6 million of Saint Paul Streets funding next year. Another $1.1 million will be spent on downtown pavement and sidewalk improvements, and $100,000 will go toward the Lexington Parkway-Montreal Avenue-West Seventh Street reconfiguration that began this year. That project is also slated to receive $1 million in Municipal-State Aid (MSA) funds in 2021 and $2.5 million in 2022.

road map
Phase II of the Griggs-Scheffer street reconstruction project in the summer of 2021 will redo the rights-of-way that appear in black above.

Two other Saint Paul Streets projects scheduled for 2022 are the reconstruction of Edgcumbe Road between Fairview and Saint Paul avenues at a cost of $6.65 million and Summit Hill alley improvements totaling $600,000.

Summit Avenue between Victoria Street and Lexington Parkway will be reconstructed in 2023 at a cost of $6.64 million. Summit between Hamline Avenue and Mississippi River Boulevard is among several local streets slated for mill and overlay work in 2023-25. The reconstruction of Pleasant Avenue between Victoria Street and Saint Clair Avenue is penciled in for $4.28 million in 2025.

Another big street project coming up is the reconstruction of Grand Avenue between Snelling and Fairview avenues, with $800,000 in design work in 2023 and $6.69 million for construction in 2024. That project will be paid for with MSA funds.

City Council president Amy Brendmoen said that by the time all of the residential streets are reconstructed, the city will have to go back and reconstruct the streets that were done in the first years of RSVP. “We’re not getting this done,” she said.

Local residents who have endured a year of detours during the recent reconstruction of Highway 5 near Fort Snelling will get a respite before the Minnesota Department of Transportation reconstructs West Seventh Street between Munster and Saint Clair avenues in 2025 at a cost of $1.75 million.

Some upcoming Saint Paul Streets projects will be funded through the city’s Capital Improvement Budget (CIB), including future traffic improvements around the Highland Bridge development ($1.3 million in 2022), a noise wall along I-94 between Fairview and Prior avenues ($100,000 in 2022), a Walnut Street steps retaining wall ($2.5 million in 2023), and a Grand Hill retaining wall near I-35E ($1 million in 2024 and $500,000 in 2025).

Some projects draw on multiple sources of funding. Reconstruction of the eastbound Kellogg Boulevard bridge by RiverCentre is set for $1.5 million in CIB funding and $2.71 million in MSA funding in 2021. Work on the Shepard Road bridge near Otto Avenue is slated for $500,000 in MSA funds and $500,000 in federal funds in 2023. Work on the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Randolph Avenue retaining walls, a roadway approach and a bridge over the Union Pacific railroad tracks near the Mississippi River is slated for $2 million in CIB funds in 2021, $225,000 in CIB funds in 2022 and another $2.4 million in federal funds in 2022.

Local streets slated for city or county mill and overlay projects in 2021 include Hamline Avenue between Randolph and Highland Parkway, Jefferson Avenue between West Seventh and Victoria streets, and Saint Paul Avenue between Edgcumbe Road and West Seventh.

 

— Jane McClure

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