Phase one sewer work will have to be redone.

The Griggs-Scheffer street reconstruction project has been a bumpy ride for local residents and Saint Paul city officials alike. Sanitary sewer work done during the project’s first phase in 2020 must be redone in 2021, and that is delaying the project’s second phase. In fact, most of the phase-two work will now be done in 2022. That includes the resurfacing and the addition of bike lanes on Hamline Avenue between Randolph Avenue and Highland Parkway.

Griggs-Scheffer’s second phase has also prompted a lawsuit by Edgcumbe Road residents who object to the addition of sidewalks and the loss of boulevard trees on Edgcumbe between Randolph and Hamline avenues. The lawsuit was filed in Ramsey County District Court under the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (MERA), a 1971 statute that provides Minnesotans with “an adequate civil remedy” to protect natural resources from pollution, impairment or destruction.

Much of phase two of the Griggs-Scheffer street repaving project (streets in bold face above) has been postponed until next year.

Regarding phase one’s sewer work, project engineer Chris Engelmann of the city’s Department of Public Works explained in a July 8 letter that “the project team has identified locations where repair or replacement of sanitary sewer pipes and connections are necessary.” Although the work was not up to city standards, there are no immediate safety concerns, according to Engelmann. The repair and replacement work is expected to begin in July. Further details and possible impacts of the extended timeline will be provided when that information is available, Engelmann added.

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City officials are still determining the start and completion dates of phase two. Some of that work could begin after Labor Day, but most of it will not be happening until next year.

Phase one is bounded by Edgcumbe Road and Randolph, Hamline and Scheffer avenues. It involves 17 blocks and had a cost of $14.275 million.

Phase two is bounded by Edgcumbe Road and Scheffer and Hamline avenues, but also includes the cul de sacs of Montcalm Court and Montcalm Place and sections of Alaska and Vista avenues east of Lexington Parkway.

Attorney Ferdinand Peters, who represents the Edgcumbe Road residents in the lawsuit against the city, said city officials ought to host an in-person meeting to discuss the postponement of the project’s second phase. Recent letters from the city regarding the delay were only sent to property owners, Peters said, “and then they left out the most important information: When are they going to dig up our neighborhood?” People do not want to have work started and then left unfinished over the winter, he added.

“This is local government being tone deaf to such a degree that no hearing aid can remedy,” Peters said.

— Jane McClure


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