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.

Art on the Avenue Performance Schedule

Here is a schedule of the music and performances at this year’s Art on the Avenue:
July 25, 2015 3:00pm-8:00pm Saint Paul – West Saint Paul

Metric Auto Parts Music Tent – 550 Smith-St. Paul
3:30-5:00pm – Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony, performances
and Instrument Petting Zoo
5:30-5:30pm – Joe Fillipovich Free Harmonica Workshop
5:30-7:00 – Joe Fillipovich: Blues

Cafe Corner Music & Art Tent – Baker and Smith – St. Paul
3:00-5:00 –  Babatunde Lea: African Drumming
5:30-7:30pm – Mira & Tom Kehoe with Xibaba: Brazilian & World Music

Capital Deals – 710 Smith
8:00pm – Bicycle Scavenger Hunt
Registration starts at 7:30pm. Bring: Bike, helmet camera or smart phone to take pictures of items on the scavenger hunt list. Kids must be accompanied by an adult!

788 Smith (Vacant Lot) – St. Paul
7:30pm Danza Mexica Cuahtemoe: Drumming and Dancing

Amore Coffee – West Saint Paul
7:00pm – Music by Joel Thune

Music on Smith – West Saint Paul
5:00pm – Swamp Brothers
6:00pm – Patrick Mager

Albert Park – West Saint Paul
4:00pm – Edgar lee

Smith and Butler – West Saint Paul
7:00pm – Kids Color Dash

Dodd Park – West Saint Paul
5:00pm – Tricia and the Toonies: Music, Puppets, and More!
8:00pm – Movie: Big Hero 6

Plus! Check out all the great art and interactive activities, starting at 3pm in Saint Paul and 4pm in West Saint Paul!  Download the map: Art on the Avenue Page