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St. Paul City Council set to vote on Griggs bikeway

St. Paul's first bicycle boulevard — a nearly two-mile stretch of Griggs Street, between Summit and Minnehaha Avenues — may get final approval Wednesday from the City Council.

The plan calls for six traffic circles along the route, and a pathway through Dunning Park, as the city tries to carve out a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly north-south bikeway. And there will be connections to existing bike paths on Summit and Minnehaha. It will be a better alternative for bicyclists than the busy Lexington Parkway, two blocks to the east.

The council, which held its last public hearing on the route last week, is expected to take a final vote Wednesday. Council Member Melvin Carter plans to meet with residents of the Lexington-Hamline Community Council tonight to answer questions. 

Construction on the bikeway could start in the spring, assuming council approval.

The traffic circles — which are called neighborhood traffic circles, and smaller than those seen in some suburbs and in Europe — are planned for Portland, Laurel, Dayton, Sherburne, Edmund and Blair avenues. The neighborhood traffic circles won't be a problem for fire engines, school buses or snow plows, city officials said. There are nine other similar neighborhood traffic circles in the city.

Some residents raised concerns about the traffic circles and assessments for improved lighting related to the project, which is funded through the Federal Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program for $400,000, according to Emily Erickson, the city's sustainable transportation planner.

The city says that most residents on Griggs will not be assessed, but that property owners between St. Anthony and University will be assessed $7.87 per assessable foot for new streetlights, in accordance with city policy.

The city also plans to contribute a match of $100,000 and raise $20,000 in extra street lighting assessments.

The city also has plans for a Jefferson Avenue bikeway that has been more controversial. Residents have raised many concerns about an early version of the plan that would prohibit left turns onto Jefferson from Cleveland Avenue, and could encourage motorists to take shortcuts through nearby alleys.

Erickson said three public meetings last month and an online survey gave residents more chances to comment on the plan.  

"The next step is planned to be a community meeting to share the design proposal based on what we heard in December, followed by the formal city approval process, which includes the Transportation Committee, Planning Commission and City Council," she said.

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