Snowplows left a big pile of snow blocking the sidewalk near Ande Quercus' home in the Hamline-Midway area of St. Paul.
Their response was novel: Dig a tunnel through it.
Plows clearing an alley near an apartment complex off Simpson Street near Edmund Avenue piled up a 6- to 7-foot-tall mound of snow, which blocked the sidewalk on the west side of Simpson Street.
"At first, I was kind of mad," said Quercus, who describes themselves as a disability justice advocate.
Quercus said they filed an online complaint about the blocked sidewalk with the city, but nothing seemed to happen.
Then Quercus recalled a 2015 story about bicyclists in Boston who dug a 40-foot tunnel through a snow mountain that blocked a bike path.
On Jan. 6, Quercus started digging — using a shovel, a hatchet, even a putty knife — and piled the snow onto a sled to haul it away. It wasn't until Jan. 12 that Quercus started to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
By Jan. 22, they had broken through to the other side with a 17-foot-long passage large enough for an adult to crawl through.
Either the city or the apartment complex seem to have noticed Quercus' handiwork — or saw the posts about the tunnel on Facebook.
After three weeks with an impassable sidewalk, work crews finally removed the snow — and the tunnel — on Thursday.
"I will miss the tunnel," Quercus said, "but I will be glad to have it as a sidewalk again because that's what we really need here."