Board Supports 4 of 5 Como-Front-Dale Projects
Tuesday, January 16, 2018 10:45 AM

dalecomofront-web_2.jpg
A diagram of some of the city's proposed projects for Como, Front and Ale.

The Como Community Council board voted Jan. 16 to support four of the five infrastructure projects that Saint Paul is proposing for the intersection of Como, Front, and Dale. The projects are part of a $350,000 Commercial Vitality Zone initiative that the City Council authorized in 2015.

The District 10 board voted to support:

  • Painting higher-visibility crosswalks in all current locations, and painting stop bars ahead of the crosswalks, in hopes of discouraging drivers from encroaching on the crosswalks
  • Painting green lane extensions across the intersection to designate the location of the Como Ave. bike lanes
  • Installing landscaping
  • Moving the Route 65 bus stop on northbound Dale to the south side of the intersection (in other words, from in front of the strip mall to in front of John’s Pizza Café)

The board did not support a proposal to eliminate the dedicated right-turn lane from southbound Como to westbound Front. That proposal would replace the lane by expanding the existing pedestrian island and shortening the crosswalk on Como.

Survey receives more than 525 responses
The board’s actions came after it conducted an online survey that received more than 525 responses. Respondents in the non-scientific survey said they supported all five of the city’s proposals, at levels ranging from 97 percent to 64 percent. (You can view the full survey results by viewing or downloading the PDF from the right column.)

In general terms, supporters said the projects would improve the intersection, especially by making it safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. Opponents tended to consider the projects a waste of money or inadequate, stop-gap measures. Several respondents who left comments said the city should add more money and do a more drastic overhaul of the intersection.

Here is how survey respondents view the five city proposals.

1. Remove the dedicated right turn lane from eastbound Como onto westbound Front.
This proposal had the lowest level of support, at 64 percent. Opponents said removing the lane would cause more problems than it solves. The most common concern was that eliminating the turn lane could divert drivers onto Grotto and other residential streets. Several residents along Grotto said their blocks already suffer from speeding drivers trying to cut through the neighborhood.

2. Paint high-visibility stripes and stop bars at all current locations.
This question has the highest level of support, at 97%.

3. Paint green lane extensions across the intersection to visibly designate the location of the Como Ave. bike lanes.
This proposal had the support of 83% of survey respondents. Some raised concerns about whether this striping would be confusing, and whether it would be slippery when wet – which could make it dangerous for bicyclists, motorcycle riders, and others.

4. Install landscaping and other aesthetic features.
This proposal has the second-lowest level of support, at 77%. Survey respondents raised concerns about whether landscaping would reduce visibility, how it would be maintained, whether it would survive in a highly urbanized setting, and whether it would trap unsightly debris and litter.

5. Move the Route 65 bus stop on northbound Dale to the south side of the intersection.
This project has the second-highest level of support, at 91%. Some respondents said they want to make sure the move does not take away parking from John’s Pizza Café.

Survey suggestions
More than 170 survey respondents also left comments, including a number of suggestions for projects that are not part of the city’s proposals. The most common suggestion is for the city to consider a roundabout or traffic circle for the intersection. (City staff say they have studied this option and that it is an expensive project that would require buying additional land to make it feasible.) Other suggestions include:

  • Widening eastbound Front near the uniform store so there is room for two traffic lanes, the bike lane, and the bus stop.
  • Adjusting stoplight timing, including adding left-turn arrows in all directions.
  • Banning “right turn on red” in all directions, and posting the signs in places where drivers are more likely to see them.
  • Adding police enforcement at the intersection.
  • Increasing bicycle infrastructure beyond painted lanes. Suggestions include bike boxes for turns, protected lanes, and bike-activated green light sensors.

District 10 Como Community Council | 1224 Lexington Pkwy N, Saint Paul, MN 55103 | 651.644.3889 | district10 [at] district10comopark.org

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