Construction to begin on Summit median walkways, result of new pedestrian management plan

Construction will begin this week on a pedestrian management plan that will change the way St. Thomas students, faculty, staff and visitors cross Summit Avenue between Cleveland and Cretin avenues.

The plan will eliminate three existing concrete crosswalks in the Summit parkway median east of Finn Street and result in the installation of a new concrete crosswalk in that median and an asphalt path in the median west of Finn.

In addition, the pick-up point for inter-campus and ACTC buses will move slightly to the west, past the sidewalk leading to the Arches. This will create clearer sightlines for pedestrians crossing Summit and motorists driving west on Summit.

The city mandated a plan in 2004 as part of a Conditional Use Permit that regulates development of the two blocks bounded by Summit, Cleveland, Grand and Cretin avenues. City officials and neighborhood leaders have had concerns about increased pedestrian traffic across Summit and jaywalking west of Finn since 1997, when the Frey Science and Engineering Center opened.

Work on the new median crossings will occur at the same time as crews landscape the grounds of new McNeely Hall, which will open in August on the southwest corner of Summit and Cleveland. Highlights of the $240,000 plan:

  • On the block east of Finn, the existing two diagonal sidewalks and the mid-block sidewalk will be removed from the median. St. Thomas will install a 24-foot-wide concrete sidewalk near Finn, with the sidewalk serving as an extension of the existing sidewalk that runs from the Arches to the westbound lane of Summit.
  • Also on the east block, but on university property on the south side of Summit, St. Thomas will create a northwest-southeast sidewalk connecting the northwest entrance of new McNeely and the new north-south Summit median crosswalk. Landscaping, two Mankato-Kasota stone walls and benches will deter jaywalking across the Summit median.
  • On the west block, St. Thomas will install an asphalt path in the Summit median from the Lot H driveway to Cretin. The path will replace the two dirt footpaths and should result in the end of most, if not all, jaywalking. The path is viewed as a temporary solution, and St. Thomas will remove the path in five years unless the West Summit Neighborhood Advisory Committee (WSNAC) agrees to an extension. St. Thomas will come up with a permanent solution for pedestrians crossing Summit along the west block as part of development plans for a new campus center on Lot H north of Summit and a residential village south of Summit.

St. Thomas and neighborhood organizations began discussions of a pedestrian management plan in 2001 and renewed them in early 2005. WSNAC spent 10 months reviewing plans and contributed $15,000 towards the east block segment.

The Merriam Park and Macalester-Groveland and Merriam Park Community Councils also endorsed the proposal. The St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission and St. Paul Parks and Recreation Commission gave unanimous approvals this spring, and the City Council subsequently approved the parks commission decision.