This Wednesday February 19, the Saint Paul City Council will vote on the approval of bonding in order to fund a reimagining of Ayd Mill Road as a 3 lane road with a separated bicycle and walking trail.
Last year, Mayor Carter proposed a realignment of Ayd Mill Road. The Public Works plan would eliminate the two lanes of traffic reducing it down to single lanes north and south-bound. In place of the other lanes, a new bike and pedestrian-only separated thoroughfare would be created along the greenspace with access points to neighborhoods and businesses along Ayd Mill. Unfortunately, due to water issues that would have to be addressed to accomplish this, a study came in at $9.5 million — nearly double of the initial ask.
As an alternative, Public Works is now proposing a reduced-cost plan which would still accomplish the goals of the original:
- Reduce ongoing maintenance costs
- Reduce traffic lanes to an appropriate level for traffic patterns
- Add safe and connected bikeways and pedestrian pathways
The New Plan
The new plan comes in at $7.5 million. It would:
- Eliminate one northbound car lane
- Convert second northbound car lane into 12-footwide bike and pedestrian traffic with a separation barrier
- Keep existing two southbound car lanes
- Reconstruct some water shed
Ayd Mill Road has long been a burden to the city and Public Works department. AMR sits in a streambed, so water has constantly been eroding it. Its traffic patterns show that it could easily be reduced and still provide adequate throughput. It is a drain on money and resources at the city level — and a constant source of complaints among its users.
By redefining Ayd Mill Road to be shared pedestrian/bicycle and car use, we can make better use of this city-owned property while simultaneously reducing ongoing maintenance costs for years to come.
Moreover, eliminating road miles and creating better infrastructure for biking and walking directly supports the city’s climate action goals. In the recently adopted Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (CARP), the city identifies that 30% of its emissions come from carbon associated with travel. One of the chief contributors to those are single-occupancy personal vehicles and especially short trips made by them.
The CARP states “Decreasing carbon emissions in the transportation sector requires a concerted set of policies that focus on simultaneously electrifying the transportation system, while reducing driving demand and increasing mode share (the percentage of commuters using a particular mode of transport) of public transit and active transportation (any human-powered mode of transportation).” Reducing lanes and promoting Ayd Mill Road as an active transportation system aligns harmoniously with the carbon emissions reduction policy set in CARP.
By redefining the possibilities of its use, the City of Saint Paul can turn Ayd Mill Road into an example of right-sizing its infrastructure for vehicle traffic but also promote alternative forms of transportation such as bicycling and walking. This coming Wednesday, Feb. 19, the City Council will vote to approve the use of bonding funds for this project. Please write, email, call or talk to your City Council member and ask them to vote “Yes” to fund this project.