The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

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The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

The Rubicon

Residents resist council-approved Summit Ave. reconstruction

Amanda Hsu
NEIGHBORHOOD CLASH. Incidents of bikers and pedestrians being hit by cars are among the city’s top considerations regarding this proposal. Initially proposed in 2021, backlash from neighbos pushed back the approval until October of 2023. “In reality, it’s just safer bike lanes,” said sophomore Roman Farley.

This December, Save Our Summit (SOS), hired legal representation to fight a recently approved Summit Avenue reconstruction plan. On Oct. 25, 2023, the Metropolitan Council voted to approve the Summit Ave. Regional Trail proposal, initially introduced in 2021, seeking to increase the safety of bikers and pedestrians along the street’s 5.4-mile stretch.

I don’t believe [the design] should be acted on… [but] I do like where the heart of the proposal is.

— Henri Peltier

Summit resident senior Henri Peltier disagrees with the decision: “I don’t believe [the design] should be acted on… [but] I do like where the heart of the proposal is.” Peltier argues that safety on Summit should be a priority, but there are many other viable solutions to solve the problem.

The plan focuses on three main goals: recreational safety, tree coverage, and historic preservation. Implementing this proposal is estimated to take around 10 to 20 years, but construction could be delayed amidst the controversy and backlash caused.

SOS, an organization created by residents to oppose the proposal, held another meeting on Dec. 22, 2023, to discuss new updates. They have raised $30,000 and hired legal representation to oppose the proposal, although any legal action might be futile since the plan has already been approved.

Summit Avenue is long overdue for road repairs and updating underground utilities, so a new trail plan was proposed to be built alongside the main reason for reconstruction. The primary additions detailed in the proposal are elevating the bike lane onto the curb and adding a buffer between the street and he bike path.

Sophomore Roman Farley is a Summit resident and supports the proposal. He believes people oppose the new design because of misinformation about the designs or are only opposed to past designs.

“It’s not as bad as people say it is … people are really worried about what it’s going to look like for the trees and the [street’s] beauty, but in reality, it’s just for safer bike lanes,” Farley said.

Sophomore Echo Dayton has lived on Summit her whole life and voiced her frustration with the proposal.

“[My whole time living here] I’ve never seen a biking accident … I think that they’re trying to defend against something that isn’t actually an issue,” she said.

Farley disagrees and believes that any causalities that can be prevented should be: “There could be like 10 deaths from cyclist accidents, but that’s still 10 too many.”

In the past seven years, 23 incidents involving pedestrians or bikes have been reported on Summit, and two cyclists have lost their lives, according to the St. Paul Bicycle Coalition website (SBC).

“There is already a bike lane that exists on the street, which isn’t used enough in my opinion, for it to be expanded,” Peltier said.

In contrast, Farley thinks there is much to gain from moving the bike lanes. He explains, “By making these bike lanes safer, more cyclists will go down those roads.”

Farley also believes a lot of false data about the number of bikers who use Summit has been spread by organizations against the proposal, like SOS.

Aside from the arguments regarding the necessity of the design, Dayton outlined logistical issues the new plan causes.

“There are too many points where driveways intersect with the planned bike lane,” Dayton said, “Who would have the right of way

Losing parking space is another issue residents will face in the redesign. “Street parking is crucial to keep because the street is often full of parked cars on weekends and nights, so other streets nearby would be filled with those cars,” Peltier said. Less parking availability will also affect the numerous businesses along or near Summit.

Another central point of contention is cutting down approximately 220 trees for construction, as many of the trees planted on Summit are mature, and the neighborhood already lost a significant number to the Emerald Ash Borer infestation a few years ago.

A few trees have been deemed to have historical importance and spared from the chopping block; however, a significant number is still estimated to be removed.

However, Farley dispels the concerns over removing the large number of trees.

“Any trees that will be lost is just from road repairs, which both sides want,” he said.

Dayton and her family have attended SOS meetings and put an SOS sign on their lawn to show opposition to the bike path plan.

There has yet to be a set date for construction

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About the Contributor
Amanda Hsu
Amanda Hsu, Feature Editor
My name is Amanda Hsu (she/her). I work as a Feature Editor for The Rubicon. At school, I’m involved in volleyball, SILC, and CAS. I love to travel, draw, and bake. I can be reached at [email protected].

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