Wheelock Parkway Reconstruction: The Basics
Monday, July 24, 2017 11:55 PM

An engineering overview of the reconstruction plans between Victoria and Avon.
This completed segment of Wheelock east of Rice St. demonstrates new sidewalk, the bike path, and a raised crosswalk.

Reconstruction of Wheelock Parkway began Monday Aug. 7. Workers started at the Victoria/Maryland/Como Lake Drive intersection and are heading east toward Dale St. as summer and fall progress. Intersections at north-south streets will be closed on a daily, as-needed basis.

City engineer Dan Haak says the contractor -- Thomas and Sons Construction -- intends to finish the project this season and rebuild the parkway all the way to Danforth, as long as the weather cooperates. If the weather doesn't cooperate, the road will be paved and plowable before winter starts, then finished in the spring, Haak says.

Wheelock is one of the last of Saint Paul’s “Terrible 20” – major streets whose crumbling condition makes reconstruction long overdue.

The road, boulevard, curb, gutter, sidewalks, crosswalks, water mains, sanitary sewer, catch basins, and street lights typically will be rebuilt or replaced. The project also includes the next segment of the Saint Paul Grand Round bikeway. (For an example of what the project will look like, visit Wheelock Parkway between Rice St. and Edgerton.)

Here are details of the 2017 segment, based on information that city staff provided to residents during meetings hosted by District 10 or in follow-up correspondence.

  • Emergency and resident access will be maintained during construction. Other traffic will be detoured onto other neighborhood streets.
  • The roadway will be narrowed from its current average width of 30 feet to 24 feet. The speed limit will be reduced to 25 mph.
  • The boulevard will be expanded and sodded.
  • The intersections where most streets and alleys meet Wheelock will be reconfigured to make them work better with the angled roadway.
  • Sidewalk on the north side of Wheelock mostly will stay in place. Sidewalk on the south typically will be replaced and moved farther south, closer to property lines.
  • A 10-foot-wide bicycle and pedestrian path will be built in the boulevard on the south side of Wheelock.
  • There will be minor reconfigurations of crosswalks at Victoria, but there will be no changes to the intersection itself in 2017.
  • City crews will be responsible for plowing the path. Adjacent property owners will be responsible for shoveling sidewalk.
  • Curb cuts at intersections will be rebuilt to make them more mobility accessible.
  • Most crosswalks on the south side will be raised, or “tabled,” as they cross the street. This slows vehicle traffic and makes it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to cross. (For samples of a raised crosswalk, visit Wynne Ave. between the pool and athletic fields west of Lexington in Como Park.)
  • The timing of stoplights at Dale and Wheelock will be recalibrated.
  • Lantern-style LED streetlights will be placed on each side of Wheelock to provide more-even distribution of light than now exists. Whenever possible, lights will be placed in line with lot lines, approximately 220 feet apart on each side of Wheelock.
  • All ash trees on the boulevard will be removed as part of the city's structural removal program to fight the invasive emerald ash borer.
  • Additional trees will be removed as construction requires. Most of these trees are affected by new water mains, copper service lines, and storm sewer upgrades that are part of the reconstruction project. One row of trees in front of Como Elementary School will be removed to make room for the Grand Round bicycle path.
  • New trees will be planted in fall 2017 or spring 2018, with the goal of adding variety to the boulevard mix. Maples will not be planted, but nearly a dozen other varieties will be available, including pin, red, and white oaks; river birch; hybrid elms; ironwood; and serviceberry, hackberry, and crabapple.
  • At some point, public art will be included in the project.
  • Residents affected by water main replacement will receive temporary water service. They will not be charged for water during that period.
  • Residents on Wheelock will have the option of having their lead water service lines and sanitary sewer connections replaced at the same time.
  • Property owners are assessed 25 percent of the cost (the level required by state law). Assessments for all lots are now based on frontage; this is a change from previous city policy, in which corner lots and irregularly shaped lots were assessed using a different formula. In addition, the Wheelock project is one of the first in the city which corner lots receive a 50 percent reduction (so they are not assessed "double" if the street on their other frontage is improved). Assessments will be due by Nov. 15, or be able to be spread out over 20 years on individual property taxes, with 3.5 percent interest.

See the city's construction site for updates as the project gets underway.

Questions and Answers
For questions about specific aspects of the project, contact:

  • Project supervisor: Scott Brimer, 651-266-6225
  • Project inspector: Ryan Lowry, 651-775-6674
  • Project engineer: Dan Haak, 651-266-6084
  • Gas and electric: Mike Madigan, 651-265-7068
  • Public art: Aaron Dysart, 651-266-8815
  • Sewers: Aaron Hass, 651-266-6234
  • Street lighting: Ben Hawkins, 651-266-6256
  • Traffic: HunWen Westman, 651-266-6174
  • Trees: Zach Jorgensen, 651-632-2437
  • Water: Ramsey Coronado, 651-266-6294

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

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