Sign up for the Smith Avenue/High Bridge community advisory committee

(MJI Photos / Creative Commons)

(MJI Photos / Creative Commons)

MnDOT is taking applications from community members for an advisory committee to provide input on the Highway 149 (Smith Ave/Dodd Road/High Bridge) reconstruction project.

This will be a transformative project for the neighborhood and will likely set the tone for development for years to come. This will also be an opportunity to discuss implementing the provisions in the Smith Avenue Revitalization Plan.

From the news release:

The Community Advisory Committee will advise the project management team on the final design of both the bridge and roadway components of the project. The committee is intended to include residents, businesses, property owners and organizations for the purpose of advising development of the project and representing the diversity of interests that can be found along the Highway 149 (Smith Avenue and Dodd Road) corridor. The diversity of interests desired for representation on the Community Advisory Committee include:

  • Residents (homeowners, renters)
  • Businesses operating within the project limits (a range of size and business type)
  • Major employers
  • Institutions and schools
  • Travelers along Smith Avenue and Dodd Road (existing transit users, bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers)
  • Other special interests

Meetings will be held on weeknights between March 2016 and October 2017 (there will be eight meetings total), locations are yet to be determined but will be along the Smith/Dodd corridor. The deadline to apply is Feb. 19, and selected applicants will be notified in early March.

To apply, download the application via this link.

Amore Coffee expanding, adding meeting room

This former barber shop will soon become part of Amore Coffee.

This former barber shop will soon become part of Amore Coffee.

Work has begun in earnest on a long-planned expansion of Amore Coffee into the space immediately to the south.

The 424 square foot expansion will include a conference room (available to rent for a fee or free with a minimum purchase) and art galley, as well as a second bathroom and overflow seating for busy days.

Mr. Dave’s Barber Shop, the former occupant of the space has moved to 797 Dodd Road (just north of Cherokee Service).

According to a Facebook post, the new conference space will be available for rent beginning March 1.

Final Smith Ave / Dodd Road workshop tonight

Workshop for Dodd Road project in Mendota Heights, West St. Paul set for Oct. 1

The public is invited to learn and provide input about future improvements to Dodd Road and Smith Avenue—Highway 149—in Mendota Heights, West St. Paul and St. Paul at a community workshop scheduled for Oct. 1.

The workshop will be held from 5 – 7 p.m. at Teresa’s Mexican Restaurant, 762 Dodd Road in Mendota Heights.

Workshop attendees will have the opportunity provide input about what biking, walking and driving improvements they would like to be considered as part of an upcoming project on the Dodd Road, Smith Avenue and the High Bridge.

The proposed project is scheduled for spring 2018 through fall 2018. Work includes:

  • Resurfacing Dodd Road and Smith Avenue—Highway 149—between I-494 in Mendota Heights and West 7th Street in St. Paul.
  • Constructing an additional left turn lane from westbound I-494 to southbound Dodd Road in Mendota Heights.
  • Replacing signals at five Highway 149 intersections.
  • Improving drainage, sidewalks and pedestrian accessibility.
  • Reconstructing the bridge deck of the Smith Avenue High Bridge over the Mississippi River in St. Paul.

The project will extend the lifespan of Highway 149 and the High Bridge, and provide a smoother road surface and improved ride for motorists.

This work is expected to result in the complete closure of the High Bridge for one construction season.

The Oct. 1 workshop is the third and final workshop scheduled for this project.

For more information on the project or to sign up for email updates, visit www.mndot.gov/metro/projects/hwy149highbridge.

To request an ASL or foreign language interpreter, call 651-366-4720. To request other reasonable accommodations, call 651-366-4718; the Minnesota Relay service toll-free at 1-800-627-3529) TTY, Voice or ASCII) or 711, or email your request to adarequest.dot@state.mn.us.

Next Smith Avenue construction workshop Sept. 15

MNDoT news release:

Workshop for High Bridge, Smith Avenue project in St. Paul area set for Sept. 15

The public is invited to learn and provide input about future improvements to Smith Avenue and Dodd Road—Highway 149—in St. Paul, West St. Paul and Mendota Heights at a community workshop scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 15.

The workshop will be held from 5 – 7 p.m. at Capital View Cafe, 637 Smith Avenue in St. Paul.

Workshop attendees will have the opportunity provide input about what biking, walking and driving improvements they would like to be considered as part of an upcoming project on the High Bridge, Smith Avenue and Dodd Road.

The proposed project is scheduled for spring 2018 through fall 2018. Work includes:

  • Reconstructing the bridge deck of the Smith Avenue High Bridge over the Mississippi River in St. Paul.
  • Resurfacing Smith Avenue and Dodd Road—Highway 149—between West 7th Street in St. Paul and I-494 in Mendota Heights.
  • Improving drainage, sidewalks and pedestrian accessibility.
  • Replacing signals at five Highway 149 intersections.
  • Constructing an additional left turn lane from westbound I-494 to southbound Dodd Road in Mendota Heights.

The project will extend the lifespan of Highway 149 and the High Bridge, and provide a smoother road surface and improved ride for motorists.

This work is expected to result in the complete closure of the High Bridge for one construction season.

The Sept. 15 workshop is the second of three workshops scheduled for this project. The third and final workshop will be held in Mendota Heights in early October. A time, date and location for the third workshop will be announced when it is finalized.

Please visit the project website for upcoming event dates and times, in addition to project updates, at www.mndot.gov/metro/projects/hwy149highbridge.

To request an ASL or foreign language interpreter, call 651-366-4720. To request other reasonable accommodations, call 651-366-4718; the Minnesota Relay service toll-free at 1-800-627-3529) TTY, Voice or ASCII) or 711, or email your request to adarequest.dot@state.mn.us.

MnDOT High Bridge / Smith Avenue workshop to be held August 24

The first of three public meetings on the Smith Avenue / High Bridge reconstruction project will be held Monday August 24, from 5-7 p.m., at Bad Weather Brewery at 414 W. 7th. (never heard of it? It’s in the former repair shop space at Smith and McBoal, across from DiGidio’s).

Two additional workshops will be held on the West Side and in Mendota Heights, information will be posted here as soon as they are scheduled.

Full news release is pasted below. Please help spread the word!

The public is invited to learn and provide input about future improvements to Smith Avenue and Dodd Road—Highway 149—in St. Paul, West St. Paul and Mendota Heights at a community workshop scheduled for Aug. 24.

The workshop will be held from 5 – 7 p.m. at Bad Weather Brewery, 414 West Seventh Street in St. Paul.

The proposed project is scheduled for spring 2018 through fall 2018. Work includes:

  • Reconstructing the bridge deck of the Smith Avenue High Bridge over the Mississippi River in St. Paul.
  • Resurfacing Smith Avenue and Dodd Road—Highway 149—between West 7th Street in St. Paul and I-494 in Mendota Heights.
  • Improving drainage, sidewalks and pedestrian accessibility.
  • Replacing signals at five Highway 149 intersections.
  • Constructing an additional left turn lane from westbound I-494 to southbound Dodd Road in Mendota Heights.

The project will extend the lifespan of Highway 149 and the High Bridge, and provide a smoother road surface and improved ride for motorists.

This work is expected to result in the complete closure of the High Bridge for one construction season.

Workshop attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about the overall project, get details about specific project elements and provide feedback on potential improvements to the High Bridge, Smith Avenue and Dodd Road. Representatives from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and project staff will be on hand to answer questions and gather input.

Two additional project workshops will be held in the coming months. Times and dates will be announced when they are finalized.

Please visit the project website for upcoming event dates and times, in addition to project updates, at www.mndot.gov/metro/projects/hwy149highbridge.

To request an ASL or foreign language interpreter, call 651-366-4720. To request other reasonable accommodations, call 651-366-4718; the Minnesota Relay service toll-free at 1-800-627-3529) TTY, Voice or ASCII) or 711, or email your request to adarequest.dot@state.mn.us.

High Bridge / Smith Ave project: Here’s how you can get involved

This image from MnDOT shows the deteriorating underside of the High Bridge.

This image from MnDOT shows the deteriorating underside of the High Bridge.

As you’ve no doubt heard by now, the High Bridge will be closing for a couple of months in 2018 (news outlets have been reporting 2017, but the date has been pushed back). The decking on the bridge needs to be replaced — no small project — and while they’re at it, MnDOT is going to go ahead and do some resurfacing of Highway 149, including Smith Avenue.

You may also be aware that around five years ago, a group of neighborhood volunteers from both St. Paul and West St. Paul endured eagerly participated in more than a year’s worth of meetings to establish a new comprehensive plan for the Smith Avenue corridor (disclosure: the writer of this post was a participant). The transportation section of the plan included provisions for improving pedestrian safety and calming traffic, addressing one of the biggest concerns for business owners and residents along the street.

The previous plan was drafted in 1984 and was basically ignored for more than two decades. This time around, though, would be completely different, we were assured. Next time the street is reconstructed, big changes would be coming.

So does this construction project mean the plan will finally be implemented? Well, maybe, maybe not.

For instance, while the comprehensive plan calls for “bump-outs” at key intersections throughout the corridor to make it safer for pedestrians to cross and to encourage drivers to keep it somewhat close to the speed limit, so far it appears only one intersection — Baker Street — is being considered for this upgrade (details on page 184 of this document). The plan calls for updating any non-ADA compliant sidewalk, which means a lot of curb corners are going to be replaced, so any changes (or lack of changes) made during this project are likely to stick around for a long time.

Tara McBride, the MnDOT engineer in charge of the project, cautions that this is “a repaving of the road, not a complete reconstruction,” so opportunities for significant upgrades may be limited. But McBride has recently reviewed the Smith Avenue plan (at the prompting of Christine Shyne from WSCO) and says “we are looking at the entire corridor to see what pedestrian and bicycle improvements can be made as part of this project to address Complete Streets.”

You’ll have a chance soon to offer more input. MnDOT is scheduling community meetings at both ends of the bridge in August and September. We’ll post more information here as it becomes available.

Also, you can sign up for email updates from MnDOT about the project.