Person walking in the street outside a closed sidewalk and construction zone

Saint Paul Construction Kicks Pedestrians Into the Streets

I have lived in St. Paul for three and a half years so far. (Yes, I said years, not decades, which is the usual standard of measurement for how long one has lived in St. Paul, depending on the public meetings you attend.) In that time, I don’t think I’ve seen a single temporary pedestrian access route through a construction zone. The St. Paul standard seems to be that the “most livable” city should just close off a sidewalk. That’s all. Like they’ve done now, at Randolph and Cleveland.

Closed sidewalk with no temporary pedestrian accommodations

Or at Highland and Cleveland.

Closed sidewalk with no temporary pedestrian accommodations; person standing in traffic

Or at University and Emerald, right by the Westgate station on the Green Line. Note the safety banner: “Use safety from the start.” Except when it comes to accommodating pedestrians by a transit station.

Person walking in the street outside a closed sidewalk and construction zone

Or on East 7th at Greenbrier.

Closed sidewalk on a busy street with no temporary pedestrian accommodations Bus stop sign with a closed sidewalk right after it

You could probably provide countless other examples within the city right now.

I could scour the information from MnDOT on Pedestrian Accommodations through Work Zones. But all I need to read is the background to wonder: If other cities can do it, why isn’t St. Paul?

Minneapolis can provide temporary pedestrian access routes. (Except for when the 4th Precinct was blocked off during protests.)

Temporary protected pedestrian accommodations adjacent to a construction site Protected pedestrian accommodations adjacent to a construction work zone

Washington DC can do it.

Temporary barriers set up to provide a pedestrian route adjacent to a construction site

And New York City, which doesn’t have any pressure on any of its public spaces and streets at all, can do it.

Temporary pedestrian accommodations adjacent to a closed sidewalk

As a St. Paul resident, I hear so much about it wanting to be “the most livable city” and an 8-80 city. I don’t need to quibble over technical details in the MUTCD to know that if the most livable city truly looked out for 8 to 80 year olds traveling on foot, it wouldn’t be constantly sending them into the street among vehicle traffic when we know that people on foot usually take the most direct route, and it wouldn’t expect them to cross the street and cross back again on streets that are often not that easy to cross in the first place. Now imagine if you couldn’t see or if you depended on using a wheelchair to travel through the city.

Heidi Schallberg

About Heidi Schallberg

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Heidi Schallberg tweets @laflaneuse more than she posts here. Her posts reflect only her opinion and not those of any organization.