SHA and SUPC cohost neighborhood meeting on Feb. 27
The Summit Hill Association and Summit-University Planning Council will co-host a neighborhood meeting on Monday, February 27, on the proposed Summit Avenue Regional Trail.
The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at House of Hope Presbyterian Church, 797 Summit Ave. It will include a brief overview by the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department followed by a question-and-answer session.
Questions must be emailed in advance
Given the expected size of the audience, the district councils are only allowing questions that are emailed in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org. “We’ll do our best to get as many questions answered as possible,” the hosts announced. More information about the February 27 meeting, its guidelines and a zoom link to the meeting will be available online at tinyurl.com/t5sstutf.
The city has released for public comment a draft plan on the 4.7-mile-long recreational trail that is reportedly 90 percent complete. The plan is to construct one-way trails on either side of Summit from Kellogg Boulevard to Mississippi River Boulevard.
Trails would be raised and separated from traffic
The 6- to 8-foot-wide trails would be built 6 inches above the street on the outside of the traffic lanes and any parking lane, but within the existing curb lines of Summit. A 2- to 4-foot buffer would be provided between the raised trails and the parking or traffic lane. On-street parking would be removed on one side of Summit between Lexington Parkway and Kellogg Boulevard.
City officials caution that the project has no funding and will need city as well as Metropolitan Parks and Open Space Commission approval. The improvements would be made in conjunction with the scheduled reconstruction of Summit. It is likely the street will be reconstructed in sections, so the completion of the trail could be many years away.
A public safety improvement
The project is intended to improve public safety along Summit. The avenue carries between 3,500 and 11,000 vehicles per day, depending on the section. In the 10 years between 2012 and 2021, there were 31 traffic accidents involving bicycles on Summit. Ninety percent of the accidents resulted in injury or death.
Complicating the project are the many players involved. Five district councils abut the street—the CapitolRiver, Summit-University, Summit Hill, Macalester-Groveland and Union Park councils. Summit is also in two historic preservation districts—Historic Hill and Summit Avenue West—that are governed by the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission.
City is still gathering comments on plan
The latest draft of the regional trail plan was released at the end of January for 30 days of public comment. Many comments have already been received, according to Saint Paul Parks and Recreation director Andy Rodriguez. “We’re seeing a lot of, ‘we’re for the plan’ or ‘we’re against the plan,’” he said. City staff are also looking for more specific criticisms of the trail design which could be addressed through revisions, he said.
Bicycle Coalition supports city’s plan
The regional trail has pitted advocacy groups against each other. The project has the support of the Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition and other cycling groups. The coalition met on February 15 to discuss the latest plan and urge its members to show their support for the trail plan at the Saint Paul Parks Commission meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 9, at the Arlington Hills Community Center, 1200 Payne Ave.
Save Our Street pushes for alternative
The ad hoc group Save Our Street (SOS) has collected more than 2,000 signatures in a petition against the regional trail. Among its concerns are the loss of trees and the harm the trail would do to the historical character of Summit. Summit is touted as the longest and best-preserved stretch of Victorian architecture in the United States. The city has estimated that as many as 221 trees could be impacted by the regional trail project. SOS maintains that as many as 950 trees could be impacted, or more depending on the placement of new curbs.
SOS is asking the city to consider alternatives to the trail, such as reducing Summit Avenue’s speed limit, narrowing the traffic lanes, creating a wider buffer between the existing on-street bike lanes and the traffic lanes and restriping the bike lanes with higher-visibility paint.
Comments on the 90 Percent Draft Regional Trail Plan are being accepted until February 28 at engagestpaul.org/summit. A link to the plan, a summary of the plan and a video about the plan are all available at that website.
— Jane McClure
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1. Who is supporting this Summit Avenue plan (names of city officials /departments please.)
Speak up; voters have a right to know who is responsible, whether they are for or against.
2. Are there other possible solutions for bikers? Of course we want them to be safe!
However, bikers have other choices for east/west routes besides historic Summit Avenue.
3. The street itself has recently been in shambles with potholes, etc., dangerous for foot and all vehicular traffic.
Where are our taxes going?
4. Who would be asked to pay for this plan?