Planning moves ahead on West St. Paul trail projects


submitted graphic • Trail and sidewalk work is proposed to take place on both Oakdale Avenue and Marie Avenue in West St. Paul in 2019. Both stretches of roadway are listed as high priority on the city’s bike/pedestrian plan.

submitted graphic • The trail improvements call for the construction of a ten-foot-wide trail along the south side of Marie Avenue and the east side of Oakdale Avenue.

Marie and Oakdale avenues set to become more pedestrian friendly.

On Feb. 20, residents of West St. Paul had a chance to look at the proposed plans that will make two busy sections of town more walkable. 

West St. Paul and Dakota County are proposing to put in a trail/sidewalk on the east side of Oakdale Avenue between Mendota Road and Wentworth Avenue as well as on the south side of Marie Avenue between Oakdale Avenue and Robert Street.

Ross Beckwith, director of the city’s Public Works and Parks Department and city engineer, said talk on these improvements has been going on for about five years. Proposed work includes the installation of a ten-foot-wide trail on both stretches of roadway with a boulevard between the back of the curb and the edge of the trail.

Beckwith said the project will help increase the safety, availability and attractiveness of bicycling and walking in the city to “encourage healthy communities and active car-free lifestyles.” He added the projects are an investment in a transportation system that will attract and retain businesses and residents. 

Originally, the work was proposed to include a sidewalk on one side of Marie Avenue and a trail on the other. Beckwith said after preliminary engineering of the corridor, the sidewalk was scrapped. 

The estimated $2.7 million cost of the project includes design, construction and temporary/permanent easements. Because Oakdale Avenue is County Road 73, Beckwith said a good portion of the project is on the county’s right-of-way and Dakota County will help cover the cost.

 

CLICK HERE FOR LARGER VERSION OF THE TRAIL & SIDEWALK GRAPHIC

CLICK HERE FOR A LARGER VERSION OF THE TRAIL IMPROVEMENTS MAP

 

Help from a grant

The city was awarded around $1 million in TAP grant funding, something Beckwith described as extremely important to the project.

“The city applied three different times for this grant and apparently third time’s the charm,” he said.

Back on Feb. 13, 2017, the city council accepted a $1.2 million Federal Transportation Alternative Program grant from the Metropolitan Council. 

Community Development Director Jim Hartshorn said at that meeting the work was all listed as high priority in the city’s bike/pedestrian plan.

“This is a critical piece. It’s worth the work because this is a critical piece in our bike/ped. plan, and a critical part in making West St. Paul walkable,” Mayor Jenny Halverson said at the meeting, adding she’s heard the same from residents.

 

Resident feedback

The Feb. 20 open house was held as a way to share information about the projects and their completion timeline with the public. It also allowed those working on the projects the chance to meet with property owners along the corridors and answer their questions or hear their concerns.

Beckwith said so far the feedback has been positive, as Marie Avenue alone carries about 100,000 pedestrians and 20,000 bicyclists per year.

There were 16 people who signed in at the open house, and while comment cards still needed to be looked over, those in attendance seemed in favor and excited for the work, Beckwith said.

Nancy and Henry, who attended the open house, said they live on Oakdale Avenue in a 55-and-up community.

“It’s about time,” Nancy said.

She said there is someone who lives in their building who uses a motorized wheelchair and has to ride on the street to go to Target. There are people who bike along Oakdale Avenue and people who like to get out and just walk. In the winter, Nancy said there is nowhere to go if there is a car coming at a pedestrian.

Henry added that as a driver, it’s not safe either because of pedestrians walking on both sides of the road and even down the middle.

“The plans should do everything that needs to be done,” he said.

Final design and easement acquisition will take place this year with construction slated to start in the summer of 2019.


 

– Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

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