Residents of a St. Paul neighborhood rejected a street reconstruction project set for this summer, and drivers on bumpy Ayd Mill Road will be the beneficiaries.

St. Paul Public Works plans to use $3.5 million freed up from the canceled Phase II Woodlawn/Jefferson project to put down fresh pavement on a 1 ½-mile segment of Ayd Mill Road by this fall.

That was not supposed to happen for another two years, said Kathy Lantry, the city’s director of Public Works. But the rapidly deteriorating conditions and flood of complaints about the pothole-ridden road being aired on social media prompted the decision to move the project up. Several motorists also directly griped to the city.

“The ongoing efforts to regularly patch and maintain the road are expensive and are no longer sufficient or sustainable,” Lantry said. “We cannot wait until 2021 to undertake this project.”

Ayd Mill Road is one of the busiest city streets in St. Paul, handling about 24,000 vehicles a day. It’s also been one of the most costly to patch and repair.

“We know that we regularly are sending crews to patch Ayd Mill Road,” said city spokeswoman Lisa Hiebert, who did not have a specific dollar amount that the city spends annually making fixes there.

Plans call for crews to grind off the top 2 inches of asphalt between Selby Avenue and Interstate 35E and replace it with a fresh 2 inches of asphalt to create a smoother driving surface.

That can’t come too soon for motorists such as Pat Walker. Late last month she was driving on Ayd Mill near Portland Avenue when she swerved to avoid a series of road depressions. She sank into a large pothole and the result was a torn tire and a $200 repair bill.

The mill and overlay project will be the first major work on Ayd Mill Road since 2003 when the original concrete road was paved over with 2 inches of asphalt. It comes as the city will spend about $2.7 million on other mill and overlay projects covering about 7 miles of roads throughout the city. It’s also spending about $3.5 million to repave downtown streets.

This summer the city had allocated $6 million to rebuild streets and put in sidewalks along streets near Woodlawn and W. Jefferson avenues in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood. Residents successfully obtained the signatures of 70 percent of the residents who opposed the project. In December, the Public Works Department canceled the project and money was diverted.

“What made sense was Ayd Mill Road,” Hiebert said.

The repaving of the four-lane Ayd Mill Road will not address long-range plans for the road, which include perhaps realigning traffic lanes and adding facilities for bicycles and pedestrians. The road also has a natural spring running under it, which presents challenges when considering future reconstruction, Hiebert said.

Lantry has not set a timeline for the repaving project, but it is expected to be done before the construction season ends in the fall.

New 5th Street pedestrian bridge

MnDOT this spring will tear down the 48-year-old SE. 5th Street pedestrian bridge over I-35W in Minneapolis’ Marcy-Holmes neighborhood and replace it with a sleek new one that has ramps that are ADA compliant. More than 1,050 bicyclists and 900 people on foot use the bridge each day, making it the state’s busiest pedestrian bridge, according to MnDOT.

 

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