Como Ave. Bike Options Attract Plenty of Attention
Tuesday, January 15, 2019 12:35 AM

como_trail_2559.jpg
Dan Edgerton, of Zan Associates, explains aspects of the Como Ave. planning to community members.

An off-street trail on the north side of Como Ave. is the common link among options the city in examining to extend the Grand Round between Hamline and Raymond Aves.

More than 125 people dropped in to the Como Park Streetcar Station Jan. 15 to get the facts about the bicycle and pedestrian trail the city plans to build in 2020 and 2021. Visitors learned that a flier distributed in the neighborhood – which stated “St. Paul & Ramsey County looking at eliminating all Como Ave on-street parking” – was a lie. They learned that social media posts claiming the project would shut down Como Lake Drive between Victoria and Lexington also was a lie.

Rumor vs. reality
In reality, the Como Ave. project is nowhere near Victoria; it actually extends west from Hamline Ave. to the Raymond/Cleveland Ave. intersection. Of the seven design options presented, only one would reduce any parking – and that option would eliminate parking only on one side of Como between Hamline and Snelling.

The proposals break the 1.6-mile trail into three sections: Hamline to Snelling; Snelling to the University of Minnesota Transitway; and the Transitway to Raymond/Cleveland. The segments between Hamline and Snelling, and west of the Transitway, now are similar: They have sidewalks on both sides of the street, parking on both sides of the street, painted bike lanes on both sides of the street, and two lanes of vehicle traffic.

The middle stretch – along the State Fairgrounds – has a sidewalk on the south side of Como but only on part of the north side, has four lanes of traffic most of the way, and has restricted parking on both sides. Only a short segment has official bike lanes painted on the street.

Options differ in each segment
In the drafts of the Grand Round proposals, what the three segments share in common is an off-street trail on the north side of Como. Separating the trail from the street is intended to make cycling easier and safer for less-experienced riders. A combination of options also could include in-street bike lanes for the entire 1.6-mile stretch; that would reduce conflicts for commuters and faster riders. But other details differ.

  • Between the Transitway and Raymond/Cleveland. The project essentially proposes replacing the existing sidewalk north of Como – along the university’s St. Paul campus – with a 12-foot-wide, two-way, multi-use, off-street trail. This would not change the street, bike lanes, or parking. (The street now is 50 feet wide; the public right-of-way is 85 feet wide.)
  • Between the Transitway and Snelling. The project would create a two-way, off-street trail on the north side of Como – along the entire length of the Fairgrounds. One option would make no changes to the street; a second option would narrow the street to 48 feet wide to allow more “elbow room” between the trail and vehicle traffic; and a third option would narrow the street to 48 feet and build both a bike trail and sidewalk on the north side of Como. (The street now varies from 50 to 58 feet wide; the entire right-of-way is 85 feet wide.)
  • Also under consideration in this stretch is a “4-3 conversion” of the street. The conversion would reconfigure Como from two lanes of traffic in each direction to one lane of traffic in each direction; a center turn lane; and painted, in-street bike lanes in each direction.
  • Between Snelling and Hamline. The project proposes an off-street bike trail on the north side of Como. It would not remove any boulevard trees to make that happen. Instead, reconstruction essentially would reallocate space within the public right-of-way. It would narrow the street to between 38 feet or 42 feet wide (depending on the option) by widening the north-side boulevard. One option to make that happen would remove parking on one side of the street, but keep the on-street bike lanes. A second option would remove the on-street bike lanes, but keep parking on both sides of the street. (The street now varies from 51 to 63 feet wide; the right-of-way is 100 feet wide.)


Timeline
The city has details, maps, and its parking study posted on the project’s web page. Design work will continue the rest of 2019. Construction is supposed to take place in 2020 and 2021.

 

como_trail_2561_2.jpg
Community members examine options for different segments of the proposed Como Ave. Trail

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

Site donated by: Havens Design, Matt Schmitt Photography
and UrbanPlanet Software LLC