The Gauntlet of Construction Signs: A Neighborhood Walk

One warm summer day, I tried to walk down my street with my dog, only to encounter a series of obstacles that began to feel like a practical joke. In the first block, I encountered a “sidewalk closed ahead,” directing me to cross Saint Clair to the other sidewalk. Despite the careless disregard of drivers as they sped by without stopping (yielding to pedestrians is required by law), I managed to make it across the road safely and optimistically kept walking.

Construction sign placed across sidewalk
I believed this sign

A block and a half later, in the middle of the bridge over Ayd Mill Road, I encountered another sign blocking the sidewalk. This sign read “Road Closed Ahead,” but did not mention anything about the sidewalk being closed, nor advise any particular course of action. I backtracked a bit, to try to cross St. Clair again and walk on the other sidewalk, but there was another “sidewalk closed” sign on that sidewalk. There did not appear to be any reason for this sidewalk to be closed, but the signs were very emphatic on this point, and I believed them.

Blue line is my route, red line is the “closed sidewalk.” The “X” marks show the locations of the first three signs I found blocking the sidewalks.

So, with both sidewalks “closed” (or at least barricaded), my options to cross the Ayd Mill Road ditch were:

  1. Walk in the street, with high-speed drivers who seemed extra angry that I was occupying 5′ of their 20’+ “lane”
  2. Move one of the construction signs, and take my chances that sidewalk wasn’t really closed
  3. Detour ~1.3 miles to the next bridge (Grand Ave) and back down to St. Clair, adding 26 minutes to what should be a two minute walk.
The suggested detour for the sidewalk closures on St. Clair over Ayd Mill Road

I ultimately chose option #1, walked into the street around the sign, and made my way back to the sidewalk. Moments later, I encountered another sign blocking the sidewalk – this one not even in use, just stored on the sidewalk (rather than the large amount of green space, the wide road, the grassy boulevard, or the closed off-ramp).

Large metal construction sign sitting on sidewalk, blocking the sidewalk curb cut. More signs in background, on roadway.
The sign blocking the sidewalk ramp, rather than performing it’s intended function of closing the road.

A block or two later, I encountered a drilling machine perched on the sidewalk, making a lot of noise and surrounded by workers. This one did not have any construction signs (but probably should’ve). We crossed St. Clair again, though my dog continued to be bothered by the loud noises.

We eventually made our way back home after accomplishing our goal, braving the complex gauntlet of signs, barricades, broken pavement, noisy machines, and dangerous drivers.

Jenny Werness

About Jenny Werness

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Jenny (she/her) is a carfree, bicycling, tree-loving St. Paul resident, with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. She believes that our rapidly changing climate should be of utmost concern to all of us. Board of Directors of, 2019-2024; Executive Committee - Content Manager.

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