New Dale Street bridge aims to bring Rondo community together again

Ramsey County officials hope a new project can reconnect a long-standing neighborhood.

A new bridge would replace the Dale Street bridge while paying tribute to the history of the Rondo neighborhood. The bridge, which was built in 1961, will be replaced next year.

When Interstate 94 was built, it tore a hole through St. Paul's Rondo neighborhood. But, a new bridge over the highway could help that community heal.

"It is an owned community project not only for the community, but by and of the community," said Ramsey County Board Commissioner Toni Carter.

People who live in the historically black neighborhood asked Ramsey County for a new Dale Street bridge because with its narrow sidewalks, crossing this one on foot is a dangerous proposition.

The county received federal funds to build a new bridge, but it spent three years getting community feedback on what they want to be a part of the structure.

"It became clear right away there was a lot of passion and emotion and a sense of place that the bridge had for the community," said Erin Laberee with Ramsey County Public Works.

The new bridge will have 16-foot-wide sidewalks on both sides that can be used by pedestrians and bicyclists, but also serve as gathering spaces. The bridge will also include art by local artists, as well as a map of the Rondo neighborhood imprinted into the concrete underneath the bridge and the words “I am Rondo” in several languages etched on the traffic barriers. 

"It’s not just a piece of infrastructure that's being built. It has a lot of meaning to it. Folks who live in that neighborhood, they want to build something they can be proud of," Laberee said. 

But most importantly, the bridge will not only link the north and south sides of Dale Street over I-94, it will help bring a neighborhood together once again.

“This is all about connecting and reconnecting and making a community that was once disrupted whole," Carter said. 

Ramsey County will hold a community meeting this summer to update residents on the project. If all goes well, construction on the bridge should begin late next year.