The Problem with East Sixth Street in St. Paul

East Sixth Street in Dayton’s Bluff has an identity crisis. Is it a residential street? Is it a minor arterial street? Is it a street to just get to and from interstate 94? In its current state I would say that depends on your perception of the street, how a person uses it and what one thinks would be its and the community’s best use. If you’re not familiar with the street here is a map showing how it meets I-94 right at Metro State University’s campus.

E6th 1

As you can see, the entrance and exit ramp onto I-94 links up directly with East Sixth Street. If we look back in time Metro State University previously used to be St. John’s Hospital and having a street connect directly with an interstate would make logical sense for emergencies and care. The hospital moved out in 1987 and Metro State moved into the space in 1992 and has been growing and expanding ever since. A freeway ramp directly flowing through the heart of the university is a double edged sword. It makes it convenient to access the university parking ramp which has entrances to it on Maria and Bates Ave, but it also creates a HUGE conflict zone with foot traffic and bicycles having to watch out for cars zooming onto or off the freeway.

Another unique situation with East Sixth is that the street is almost entirely residential. Between Mounds Blvd and Maria which is the 1st block coming on/off the freeway contains Metro State University, an insurance agency, Yoerg Saloon (which is on the corner but faces Maria) and Sacred Heart Church 6 blocks up which has been at its current location since 1881.

Aside from these 4 commercial structures the entire length of the street (excluding one other business about 8 blocks up on 6th) is residential. The street is classified as minor arterial, but this is curious considering there is a 4 lane highway one block over; East 7th Street. Why do we need one high traffic street located one block parallel to another? 7th Street is Dayton’s Bluff commercial corridor. Why are we directing most of the traffic onto a residential street versus our main business district one block parallel?

Looking up East Street Shows the residential nature of the street along with planted islands.

Looking up East Street Shows the residential nature of the street along with planted islands.

 

So what are the problems and what has been done already? Let’s look at the issues from a residential perspective since these folks spend arguably the most time on/observing and living with the behaviors of the street. The street has had quite an increase in cars over the years. In 2005 the Average Daily Traffic (ADT) was around 5700 cars a day. A more recent study in October 2018 showed that the ADT now sits at about 9700. That’s around a 70% increase in daily traffic in 13 years. When I speak of these numbers I am not addressing the whole of East Sixth Street, because the street itself runs around 20 blocks long and ends in a T intersection at East View Playground. These numbers I’m quoting are only including a 6 block stretch from Mounds Blvd to Arcade Street.

9700 cars days is A LOT on a residential street, it might not sound excessive, but imagine living with nearly 10,000 cars or trucks a day passing in front of your house. Imagine a healthy number of 18 wheeler semi trucks, tow trucks, dump trucks, construction trucks and other large commercial vehicles traveling on a residential street just feet from your front door daily. You’re going to not only hear it; you’re going to feel it. Now imagine having your windows open and the sheer road noise and pollution being created and pumped into your home by nearly 10,000 cars a day.

Many of these 9700 cars a day are also behaving like they are still on a freeway off ramp. While 85th percentile speeds have improved over the years the latest data still shows it is around 31-35 MPH. This might not seem unusual, but it is indicative of driver perception of the street. I think many aren’t as concerned about the 85th percentile speeds themselves, but concerned with the drivers that go way up and beyond these speeds. We have had a significant history of damage to vehicles, signs, buildings and people for a long time. When we look at the data we can see that the city is spending a significant amount of time and money repairing and replacing signs on the street due to drivers hitting them. In fact the city spends around $400 a month on these sign replacements/repairs for a 6 block stretch of street. The community has planted the 5 islands in the street and had beautiful cast iron urns in these islands. All 5 islands have been hit so many times that all the urns have been destroyed and damage to them is a regular issue. A regular number of parked vehicles hit by cars occur yearly and cars have also flipped over in the street and boulevards and hit and damaged buildings over the years. Most recently in 2017 a car stuck a pedestrian and in 2016 a car struck a bicyclist; both with injuries. Sadly we have also had one resident killed crossing the street in front of her home.

A parked vehicle hit and destroyed by a car that should have been going no more than 30 MPH.

A parked vehicle hit and destroyed by a car that should have been going no more than 30 MPH.

Aside from these safety concerns to foot traffic, vehicles and residents I think it’s important to mention other quality of life issues 9700 cars a day has on a community. I have myself seen people throwing large amounts of trash out of their vehicles or dumping illegally, cars that lack mufflers and cars with stereos (in my opinion) way too loud. These may be “normal” behaviors of some drivers, but when it is amplified to dozens of vehicles doing these behaviors on a daily basis it really becomes a quality of life problem. I also have to only wonder how much pollution and carbon dioxide is created on this street when 9700 cars a day pass in front of the structure that you have your windows open, eat, sleep and breathe in.

So with all these issues what has been done to try to improve the conditions for everyone? The community and the city have been trying to improve the conditions for over 20 years. Interestingly we have sources dating back to the 1950s noting people having to take their lives into their hands to cross the busy street. While working on improving the street we are on at least the 2nd or 3rd generation of residents striving for change and in the past decade some good improvements have been made. Residents have worked with Public Works and they have also dedicated a lot of time and energy to improving conditions. Stop signs have been installed replacing traffic lights and 2 way stops, the street was narrowed to its current width of 38 feet, bump-outs were added, islands were added at controlled intersections, a speed indicator sign and lantern style street lights have also been installed. All these improvements have been implemented along with attempts to get traffic enforcement out on a regular basis, but many feel (including myself) that it still hasn’t improved conditions enough. After every other effort has tried and failed is when the community took the ongoing issue to Council Member Jane Prince to discuss what else could be attempted. With a petition and support from the Dayton’s Bluff District Council a study was conducted in October 2018 to see what would happen if a 1 block section at Mounds Boulevard was closed. Let’s look at the date from this test below. The results of the study can be found at https://www.stpaul.gov/6thtest

E6h 4

The study was to attempt a one block closure of 6th Street between Mounds Blvd and Maria Ave. This location was selected to stop the conflict of the interstate on/off ramp and a residential street. This would force those coming off 94 East onto Mounds Blvd would have to turn rather than continue straight. Looking at the data chart above we see that of traffic coming off at the exit; 42% of it is going onto 6th vs. 28% turning onto a 4 lane highway and the commercial corridor and 29% turns to go to 3rd street. We can see that the majority of traffic is going up 6th from the exit. It’s also challenging and a disincentive for cars to turn at this intersection. It’s made and encouraged to get vehicles on and off the ramp as quickly as possible and heaven help anyone that wants to turn against this excessive flow of traffic. It’s really made to funnel cars on and off. But what would happen if this one block was closed and traffic had to find a new way?

E6th 5

E6h 6

During the closure we can see the changes above. I figured in the percentages above of the changes. We can see that 2/3 of the traffic went over to 7th Street which is the ideal location, 1/3 went to 3rd street, but interestingly when we look at the data it seems that around 2800 cars a day stopped using this exit all together and found another route. I think that it’s also important to note that roughly 30% of vehicles that were on 6th street before the closure, stayed on 6th street indicating that these 2000 ADT had a specific purpose staying on the street and the rest of the traffic found other ways to get to their destination. It’s also interesting to see how most adjacent streets decreased in their ADT too. The only oddity I find on the study is that a 1 block stretch of Maria at the university increased quite a bit. Some of this traffic is probably university traffic and some of it is probably cut through traffic. We also significantly decrease the conflict of traffic coming and going off the ramp vs. cars that are trying to turn against this flow. The study details in the link above will show more information.

Along with the study data an online survey was conducted in conjunction and was also released. The survey was only open for comment during the 4 weeks of the closure. The responses were mixed; some people complain about having to go one block over or a small increase in their commute time. Others were concerned with the traffic that was added to 7th Street and 3rd Street. Asking property owners and residents on 6th Street and adjacent streets where traffic decreased were highly favorable and positive. The Dayton’s Bluff Community Council has supported a permanent closure and currently Metro State University has remained neutral on their opinion of the closure.

Rendering of how 6th Street & Mounds Blvd could look with a closure and green space added. Photo created by David Oberpriller .

Rendering of how 6th Street & Mounds Blvd could look with a closure and green space added. Photo created by David Oberpriller .

So what does the neighborhood gain by all this? My thoughts as a resident are that we get a lot. We get a huge quality of life increase and we get a street that isn’t scary to cross or to bicycle on. We get a neighborhood again rather than a cut through street of people in a rush to get onto the freeway. We get a street where pedestrians and bicyclists can travel and cross without trying to dodge freeway exit driver behavior. We get increased visibility on our commercial corridor and businesses can be easily found rather than going a back way trying to find it. To my eye it seems so illogical to have a freeway ramp dump traffic onto a residential street when we have a 4 lane state highway one block over. It seems logical to me to put vehicles traveling a greater distance on the highway and keep the traffic that has a specific local destination on the residential street. I think the study accomplished this. The data shows that it worked closing this one block segment and that with a few small implementations it seems to me that we have a lot more to gain by doing this closure rather than not doing it. I could go on and on of other examples of where a similar closure implementation have worked and been successful throughout the country and more locally we could look to Minneapolis at the now removed Washington Ave freeway ramp that dumped cars into the heart of the University of Minnesota. After my 13 years of working on improving conditions on the street and others providing 20+ years of work doing the same, we haven’t come to this step easy. We have tried so many other methods that haven’t been successful and this is the absolute last resort to dramatically improve conditions and quality of life for hundreds if not thousands of people. My neighbor that was killed crossing the street in front of her house was a big proponent to improve the conditions on the street and sadly her life was lost because of the conditions. I think we owe this to our neighborhood and community and whether I remain a resident of this area all my life or another few years I fight for this because I intrinsically feel this is the right and logical thing to do for everyone who lives and visits Dayton’s Bluff. I think we have so little to lose and so much to gain.

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41 Responses to The Problem with East Sixth Street in St. Paul

  1. jf January 22, 2019 at 10:46 am #

    How do you find the traffic counts and maintenance costs for a specific road? I’d be interested in looking at Rollins/17th Ave that is right below my balcony and has a lot of heavy traffic on weekdays.

    • Matt Mazanec
      Matt January 22, 2019 at 11:14 am #

      Traffic counts can be fairly easily found from public works. Maintenance costs they will also have but sometimes these costs take more digging and research since they aren’t always as easily accessible as traffic counts.

    • commissar January 22, 2019 at 8:32 pm #

      mndot has a good one for it.

  2. Betsy Larey January 22, 2019 at 11:11 am #

    This is really a cool site, I’m glad I signed up. I learn something new every week!
    Betsy

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke January 22, 2019 at 11:22 am #

      Glad you are liking it!

  3. Brian January 22, 2019 at 1:25 pm #

    Drivers are naturally going to want to take the easiest route which is going straight ahead.
    MNDOT really should have figured out a way to connect I-94 with 7th St instead of 6th St. It appears that they could have done a perpendicular connection to 7th St. The extra curve would probably slow traffic coming off the freeway as a bonus.

    The survey results show the vast majority of those surveyed are against this. It appears some of the main issues are simply issues with traffic light timing that could likely be fixed.

    It appears the City of St. Paul will be closing a lot of streets in coming years.

    • Matt Mazanec
      Matt January 22, 2019 at 1:47 pm #

      You’re absolutely right that this could have been avoided by MNDOT connecting it to 7th rather than 6th. I believe the design was heavily influenced when the site was a hospital and the easiest access was via 6th. Times of course have changed.

      I also totally agree that improved signals would improve crash data at 6th and Mounds, but I feel driver behavior on 6th will not fundamentally change because of signals. The core issue is having a freeway ramp dumping directly onto a mainly residential street and bypassing the commercial district.

      This connection between a low speed residential street and a higher speed freeway ramp needs to be disconnected . It doesn’t work, it’s dangerous and impedes the quality of life for hundreds of people who use this street and who live on or near it. Just my two cents.

      • Brian January 23, 2019 at 6:23 am #

        The signal issue I am talking about would be if 6th St was closed. Survey respondents had a number of complaints about signal timing during the test itself. I assume the city didn’t change any signal timings for the test. A permanent closure would, I assume, include looking at signal timing.

  4. Scott Berger January 22, 2019 at 3:58 pm #

    The problem boils down entirely to the freeway connecting to the grid in the wrong place. Locals that I’ve talked to didn’t like the closure, and personally I’m never in favor of a de-gridding as is being proposed. We’ve heard this story before. Address the problem, don’t just slap a band-aid on it.

    • Brian January 23, 2019 at 9:34 am #

      It is highly unlikely MNDOT is ever going to spend the millions to properly connect I-94 to 7th St. If that exit and entrance were simply removed it would mean that west bound drivers would have to go all the way to White Bear Ave to go north of 94 directly. They could go south on Hwy 10 and then somehow make their way north.

      I believe MNDOT just did a major rehabilitation on this stretch of highway so it will likely be many years before it gets rebuilt again. They would probably have to make a major change like they did on 35E at Cayuga to get this exit and entrance redone.

      • Scott Berger January 23, 2019 at 9:39 am #

        My hope is that the 3rd St./Kellogg bridge project could be expanded to include some flyover or new ramps for Mounds connection. Perhaps a split on/off configuration where EB exits to 3rd, and WB enters at 6th? Ideally, the left entrances/exits will be eliminated eventually as well.

  5. Matthew January 22, 2019 at 4:01 pm #

    While I’m sympathetic to the residents of this street, I think it is odd that you left out Arcade and 7th from the before and after. If you divert traffic from 6th to 7th, you do solve one problem but create another. Namely that the left turn from 7th to Arcade would get even worse than it already is. Part of that is alleviated by people moving naturally from 6th to Arcade, which would be greatly reduced by blocking traffic at the exit. I’m not looking at the data like this writer, but I would guess that this intersection is also a spot with quite a lot of accidents, both vehicle and pedestrian, and making that worse just shifts the problem.

    • Matt Mazanec
      Matt January 22, 2019 at 9:53 pm #

      Arcade and 7th light probably does need a reexamination of its timing and such. For many years folks have expressee concerns about the number of people coming off the freeway and taking the arcade turn off. They are probably taking it to either get onto E 7th Street (which ideally they would have taken Mounds Blvd to turn onto 7th) or they are continuing to go on Arcade and leave Ward 7. Both of these traffic patterns could probably be considered “cut through” traffic and would probably be better served on more direct routes.

  6. Erik January 22, 2019 at 4:02 pm #

    I’m a directly tied resident, first off.

    the closure was a huge annoyance, adding 10-20 minutes daily in the car for me. much slower alternative routes were needed, massive increase in traffic on the much more house intensive 3rd st.

    it also completely cut off the new Yoerg business from nearly all traffic, a huge blow had they been open on time.

    I will be sure to attend relevant meetings to express my distaste for the proposed closing of 6th south of Maria.

    surrounding infrastructure would require huge improvements and expansion, or reconfiguring to accommodate the large increase in traffic.

    • Matt Mazanec
      Matt January 22, 2019 at 9:58 pm #

      It seems though that there wasn’t a huge increase in traffic you expressed. 7th street increased by about 4% east of Bates. You bring up some good points and I think many people want to see desperately needed improvements on it. I think the conflict comes with how much can community activism undertake? Should the group that’s wanting to push more traffic to 7th street and focus on 6th street? At lease 7th street is expected to get some improvements in 2019 I believe.

  7. TT13 January 22, 2019 at 6:11 pm #

    I live a couple of blocks away, on Greenbrier & E. 7th.. I, However grew up on Bates & 6th street.. I’ve seen all the MANY changes over the years.. The decline & rise again of my neighborhood… And, while re routing cars off 6th to 7th street… I understand the concept.. But, the change, because of E. 7th street being the business sector of our community.. Was a bit of a mess.. There’s an Assisted living facility in the middle of the 7th street climb, and NO cross walk, light or slow (ha) down sign for these folks.. The Buses (74,54 & 61) all run on E. 7th street TOO.. For these folks to SAFELY get across E. 7th street.. They have to go two blocks up to Hope or 3 down TO Maria.. With Mississippi market almost directly across from Delwood Assisted living.. 🤔.. The closure of 6th street for the trial was a disaster in this two block span.. And.. I was surprised, but thankful there wasn’t a serious or fatal accident in the trial.. If it’s approved to be perminate, there needs to be some sort of “cross walk”, light or other for these folks.. With canes, walkers & wheel chairs.. Summer is one thing.. But, on this hill in the winter, with the CRAP way the city plows its streets.. Is Just asking for a fatality.. 😭

    • Matt Mazanec
      Matt January 22, 2019 at 9:59 pm #

      I hear a pedestrian crossing light will be installed on 7th in 2019 either at 7th and Bates or 7th and Maple. I forget. You’re completely right that it is hard to cross 7th as is!

  8. shelly January 22, 2019 at 6:15 pm #

    shoulda thought of this when they redid 52 and 7th st and totally fixed it all at the same time that’s a major roundabout mess there….

  9. Al January 22, 2019 at 8:20 pm #

    I own a business on 6th that was directly effected by the closure. I chose to open the business in the area because I thought it has potential to be revitalized. It was a large pain for customers to get to us and also leave. We would probably move if it was shut down completely. Another vacant building for the neighborhood… My employees that live in the neighborhood would be out of work as they would not be able to walk/bike to work any longer.

    18 wheelers do not travel the street like the author suggests. They are required to take 7th or 3rd as they are designated truck routes. I spend 85% of my day 8ft from the street looking out a window. The traffic is probably 90% cars/pick ups/SUVs. Never once have I seen issues with pedestrians.

    Also not everyone in the neighborhood was asked it notified about this. We were not notified what was going on nor that we could voice our frustration and discontent. Reading this article was the first I knew why the street was closed. I honestly thought it was something Metro State was doing.

    • Matt Mazanec
      Matt January 22, 2019 at 10:09 pm #

      I’m really sorry you feel frustrated by the test closure. Since there are only a handful of businesses on 6th I would guess yours has been here for some time. I would also hazard a guess that you’re a destination business and not much traffic comes from people driving by thinking they should stop there. I could be completely wrong and I apologize if I am. Nobody wants to see one of the few business establishments feel like they have to leave. It just surprises me that you feel having your clients go around the block to reach you would make it necessary to close up shop; especially if you’re a long standing destination business in the neighborhood.

      As for semi truck and tow trucks we do have an abundance. I’ve spoken to probably over 30 residents who have experienced it and we have also seen a semi take out one of the island signs and urns .

      Technically yes trucks are suppose to use the truck route onto 7th. A sign along with a miniature sign to tell folks where the business district are as you come off the exit. In reality this doesnt always happen. I have been awaken more than once by an 18 wheeler driving on the street. It’s not a subtle sound one can ignore.

      Nobody wants any business to leave the neighborhood but we need to have a real examination of the issues and safety concerns and see what has been tried and what hasn’t worked. Where else does one go?

  10. commissar January 22, 2019 at 9:13 pm #

    6th is a truck route only for a block to maria. you’re supposed to go left or right at maria. seventh IS a truck route, however. https://www.stpaul.gov/sites/default/files/Media%20Root/Public%20Works/2017%20BRIDGE%20MAP-CITY.pdf

  11. Eric Saathoff
    Eric Saathoff January 22, 2019 at 9:57 pm #

    I sympathize with having a busy street and wanting it to be calmer. It’s interesting to characterize it as a residential street vs a commercial street. Maryland Avenue is mostly a residential street, but it has 20,000 or more cars per day. Most people who live around Maryland want the cars on Maryland rather than their streets, despite the fact that many families live on Maryland.

    On the other hand there’s Payne Avenue, which has far less traffic. But the traffic on Payne is largely people wanting to go to the many businesses that are there. If they didn’t want to go to the businesses they might take Arcade or Edgerton, which would likely be faster. This means it is a more walkable business district.

    My main concern is that putting the traffic on East 7th Street could hamstring the city/county/state from calming that street. It needs serious calming, and it would be great to use lanes for dedicated transit or bicycles. East 7th is a major obstacle for bicyclists. The more traffic increases, the less likely lanes could be repurposed.

    Could there be another traffic calming element for East 6th that would still allow cars through? What if we install chicanes? That’s pretty much what they did on Maria just northwest of the intersection with 6th. Pushing all the cars onto East 7th confirms its destiny to be a car sewer, hostile to pedestrians getting on or across.

    • Matt Mazanec
      Matt January 22, 2019 at 10:16 pm #

      Yeah 7th street badly needs help. I believe a pedestrian crossing light will be installed in 2019.

      I think the residents might be concerned that chicanes would take any street parking. When the islands were installed that was the attempt to narrow it and sections.

      7th street has been discussed for many projects and I’ve even heard discussed a 4-3 conversion. I think some people think that if a small increase of traffic gets routed to 7th that it might force some changes to happen.

      7th street however might be problematic to add bike lanes. 6th street could work well though to connect the Margaret street bike path to Maria Ave and downtown with some calming measures

    • commissar January 22, 2019 at 11:31 pm #

      7th will always bee a car sewer. it’s a primary truck route to arcade/US61 and white bear ave, and up into maplewood. it’s just not suitable for bike traffic, really. in fact, e7th carries the US 61, unsigned until arcade, so i highly doubt you’re ever see a road diet, because it’d have to go through FHWA

      • Bill Lindeke
        Bill Lindeke January 23, 2019 at 7:23 am #

        My hope for E 7th is that it becomes a street with transit running down the center, walkable and people-centered.

        • Commissar January 23, 2019 at 1:03 pm #

          I think… You are not going to see that, for the most part. You need the width of 4 lanes for the trucks, who have a 75 foot minimum turning radius. If the trucks get too close to the edge of the road, it starts breaking the pavement.

          Some improvements for safety will be needed, true, but its probably never going to be super walkable

          • Bill Lindeke
            Bill Lindeke January 23, 2019 at 4:02 pm #

            It’s possible to do that. It’d look a lot like how West 7th is going to look with its rail. The ROWs are equivalent. The city’s streetcar study looked at it already, if you recall.

            • commissar January 23, 2019 at 10:28 pm #

              no, i actually have not seen the w 7th streetcar information that gives much idea of the road layout. and w 7th… i personally don’t use it much at work, i use shepard when i need to get to s st paul in the truck. (35e being a no-fly zone.).

  12. Nina January 23, 2019 at 5:49 am #

    Lots of residential dwellings also on 7th, 3rd and Arcade streets, to which the 6th street traffic would be diverted. The difference? The 7th, 3rd and Arcade residents are much more low-income, more apartments, group homes and residential facilities for elderly and disabled, distressed housing. 6th has the larger, genteel and relatively recently revitalized and gentrified Victorian “mansion” houses, which your bio says to me you are interested in protecting as a ‘historic preservation’ advocate. Higher income people are buying/ living on 6th near Metro State, which has seen typical gentrification improvements such as Mississippi Market, independent coffee houses and other niche businesses in historic homes and buildings. As a lifetime resident of this area, this particular push for funneling freeway traffic uphill to 7th and 3rd smacks a bit of NIMBY.

    • Matt Mazanec
      Matt January 23, 2019 at 10:01 am #

      This has been a 20+ year process working to improve the conditions on the street. I’ve been working on it for about 13 years but I’m the second generation doing it. Actually many who have worked hard on this have been in the neighborhood 20, 30, even 40 years so it’s not some new gentrified kids testing options. It’s people who have spent their who lives here and are tired of being oppressed by driver behavior.

      • Nina January 24, 2019 at 5:30 am #

        I know how long the process has been going on and the demographic of the movement. Your reply hints that you think I’m elderly and policy-dumb, but I’m actually informed, involved in my hometown neighborhood’s issues and in your generation, “ kid.” Poor, renters, disabled and elderly are being left out of decisions too much in the East Side development process.

        • Julie Kosbab January 24, 2019 at 11:55 am #

          The public hearing process is hostile to most of the East Side’s residents. It requires time, at awkward times, many just don’t have.

  13. Lillian January 23, 2019 at 10:59 am #

    As a resident who has lived on this street for over 30 years I have seen how some idiots drive on the street. I have difficulty getting out of my driveway due to how fast people drive and one of the neighbors was actually killed crossing the street. Its dangerous.

    I think people who are against this are against adding 5 minutes to their own commute to help the lives on many other people. During the test closure things worked fine. Dont let anyone tell you otherwise. Some delays on 7th, but nothing awful and there were still a lot of people who used 6th street while it was closed but these drivers were mostly courteous, drove the speed limit and stopped at the signs. Not like the other yahoos that speed through to get to the freeway .

    After 30 years of dealing with this crappy driver behavior in front of my house I’m fed up. I am the property owner and pay my taxes yet so many people seem to not care about my voice at all. Others just want to complain that they cant get to 94 as quickly if its closed. Tell your minor complaint to the family that lost their mother who was run down in front of her house. Shes DEAD because some jerk wanted to speed through to get to the freeway. Please continue to tell me how your inconvenience is more important than her death.

    • Matt Mazanec
      Matt January 23, 2019 at 1:39 pm #

      I totally get your frustration. I think that unquestionably there were some time delays for people having to use other routes, but I think this could be dramatically improved by light timing changes on East 7th.

      I also noticed a change in the behavior of the 1500 drivers that continued to use 6th during the closure. My sense is that these drivers were truly local and more mindful of the environment they were driving in. I also noticed that the road noise dramatically decreased during the closure.

      All voices should be heard and considered in the process and people’s percentage of impact should be considered too. I would argue that those who live on the street and experience the driving behavior 365 days a year have a good understanding of how things are compared to folks that use the street only a few times a day.

      In the end let’s not get angry at each other, let’s look at what works, what doesn’t, what’s been tried and successful and what has been tried and failed. I’m not saying a closure is the only way to reach positive results but I think we’ve just about run out of other options after trying many other ideas over the 13 years I’ve been involved and the 20+ years some of my other neighbors have worked on.

      • Brian January 23, 2019 at 3:06 pm #

        If all voices are to be heard then the majority who answered the survey are against the change. However, a lot of the concerns seem to regard signal timing which would likely be changed if this was made permanent.

  14. Matt Steele
    Matt Steele January 23, 2019 at 1:55 pm #

    Rather than close 6th St up the hill from Mounds Blvd, why not simply close the ramps to/from I-94?

    The ramp from eastbound 94 to Mounds Blvd would be easiest to remove. First, it’s a substandard left-hand exit from the Interstate. Second, there are easy alternatives. Traffic eastbound on I-94 can take the 7th St exit, and traffic southbound on I-35E can take the Wacouta St exit, before heading east about 2/3 of a mile to reach Mounds Blvd and Metro State.

    The ramp from Mounds Blvd to westbound 94 / northbound 35E is a little trickier, but still not the worst. An easier replacement would be a ramp from 7th and Kittson (the car wash corner) onto westbound 94, merging with the existing ramp that was just build with the Lafayette Bridge rebuild.

    • Monte Castleman January 23, 2019 at 5:07 pm #

      I’ve used that ramp only once or twice in my life so I’m far from an expert in the area, but this seems to be the most reasonable option, if doing nothing or closing down that block of 6th aren’t options. I-94 likely takes that sharp bend to cross Swede Hollow at a 90 degree angle and it’s near a bunch of other ramps which limit options. If you go straight 6th Street is just where the ramps end up, so I’d suggest that’s why it was built there rather than any desire to cater to St. Johns.

      Building a two lane roundabout would require a bunch of expensive bridging over the hollow and I-94. Moving the ramps to the right and connecting directly to 7th will result in one or more of the following: sharp ramp curves, expensive bridging, undesirable intersection spacing on 7th, and a nasty weave on I-94. Sometimes a left exit is the lesser of two evils if the alternative is a weave.

      Not relevant but interesting to note that 6th Street carried US 61, nee Constitutional Route 1, until the 1930s,

  15. Scott Berger January 23, 2019 at 3:17 pm #

    How about we connect both I-94 ramps directly to the Mounds/3rd. st intersection, and build a two-lane roundabout there in conjunction with new bridge project and the Gold Line station at Mounds. Would require only one new flyover, and you could make the roundabout more like a carousel and grand entrance to the Dayton’s Bluff historic neighborhood and give easier access to a convenient Gold Line station.

  16. Frank Phelan January 24, 2019 at 7:53 pm #

    This is my old stomping grounds, and I’m not all that far from it now.

    As a kid, I grew up on 5th. The old man walked to work at the brewery. If one of my older sibs accompanied me, I could walk to the end of Greenbrier and meet him at the top of the stairs to walk home with him. That was when 6th was still four lanes, and even worse to cross than now. I can’t recall which was harder to cross, 6th or 7th, but both were hellacious, especially at rush hour.

    A friend lived on 6th between Maria and Bates. The house is gone, and now there is a vacant lot there, like a missing tooth. Take a look at that lot, you’ll be surprised to see a house fit in there.

    That block is in the beginning of the movie That Was Then, This is Now. One of the characters steals milk off of the front step of the house my buddy lived in. There is a car chase seen that takes place on 7th later in the film.

    They had a car that they kept in a rented garage space on the back side of wht is now (or will soon be) Yoerg’s. That structure has been removed. One time that the car was parked on 6th, some one zooming off the freeway rammed into it, put the bumper of that Gran Torino into it’s front seat. But that wasn’t the worst crash I recall on 6th.

    About 1973, a blue car, Mustang I think, was zipping up 6th, and it didn’t make the turn at Sacred Heart Church. The driver died. For many years, there was still blue paint on the stone where it impacted. I think it didn’t even scratch the building.

    My Dad was among those who pushed for the signal lights at 6th and Hope, partly motivated by drivers zooming over the rise just west of the intersection and potentially killing a kid going to or from Sacred Heart, and later Sacred Heart – Saint John, School. That too must have been about 1973. I was surprised several years back to see it back to a 4 way stop.

    A better ped crossing on 7th at Maple would be good for the old folks (I’m almost there) and the Co-op. Would it be better to address 6th and then 7th? Or to do a more comprehensive plan from the start?

    • Eric Saathoff
      Eric Saathoff January 24, 2019 at 8:43 pm #

      Comprehensive plan sounds nice, but 7th is complicated with state input.

    • Matt Mazanec
      Matt January 24, 2019 at 11:34 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your story Frank. Always love to hear old stories of the neighborhood. Tragic that another death occurred with a car hitting a church. I wasn’t aware of that.

      The long history of calming and improvement of 6th has been entirely community driven. It’s been a daunting process to say the least.

      7th street I feel needs to be examined on it’s own case and merits since if a closure occurred it would only see a small increase of traffic East of Metro State . I think lights and timings should be examined but 7th needs a vast overhaul.

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