So long, green stairs.
The almost-century-old staircase that rises up 191 steps from Wabasha Street to the top of the West Side bluffs in St. Paul is on its last legs, and today might be the end.
A rainstorm a couple of weeks ago loosened a large boulder that fell from the top of the bluffs and crashed into one of the staircase's upright supports, said John Maczko, city engineer.
Workers have been trying to stabilize the staircase since, but to no avail. It's fenced off for safety.
"The best thing for it is to come down," Maczko said. Efforts to get money for more substantial rehabilitation haven't been successful, he added.
The city spends about $16,000 yearly to maintain the stairs. About $60,000 was put into them in the past couple of years to keep them safe, Maczko said.
Today, they're a safety hazard.
For many past and former high school athletes, the green stairs conjure burning sensations in the legs and lungs.
"It was the ideal training device," said Mayor Chris Coleman, a 15-year West Side resident. He used to load up a backpack and walk the stairs to train for mountain hikes.
People watched fireworks from it. But it also served a practical purpose: getting people from the bluffs to the flats.
The view from above gives a panoramic picture of downtown St. Paul.
At the top of the bluffs, where Hall Avenue turns into Prospect Boulevard, black letters and arrows on a white sign say: "Stairway to Wabasha."
At the top of the stairs, mounted on chain-link fencing, black letters -- all capitalized -- on a white sign say: "Steps closed."
"Hopefully we'll move forward quickly to get them rebuilt," Coleman said.