Summit Ave bike trail sparks debate at St. Paul hearing

The City of St. Paul held a public hearing Thursday night for proposed changes to Summit Avenue’s aging infrastructure, including a proposal for a raised bike lane.

City leaders say the road and infrastructure underneath the historic street are aging and need to be replaced. The $100 million reconstruction plan would make the necessary repairs but also include raised and separated bike lanes. 

Over a dozen people in the packed meeting voiced their thoughts and opinions about the project which included concerns over the lack of parking, property values dropping, and additional shoveling of the bike path. Others were excited about the potential safety for bikers. 


Summit Ave repair and bike trail debate: What you need to know

Summit Avenue in St. Paul is one of the most iconic stretches of road in Minnesota. A debate over whether the city should add a raised bike lane to the street while repairing it has divided residents and homeowners.

A big topic of conversation was how the project would impact the surrounding trees. The city says about 200 trees would be affected by the project, but critics of the plan say the number is closer to 900 trees. Other community members argue taking the trees away would destroy the scenic history for which Summit Avenue is known. 

"You can park your car, walk along Summit Ave under huge trees, and take part of our history. It’s just a feeling. It’s unreplaceable," a woman at the hearing said. "Removing parking, old trees, and walking paths would severely remove the history that we have here in St. Paul and attraction to the Summit Avenue in St. Paul Area."

Meanwhile, those who approved of the proposal said it would improve sidewalks and driveways by giving them a clear and safer path for those who walk or bike on Summit Avenue. 

If the plan gets approved, funding and construction are likely at least five to seven years away.