5th & 6th Streets in downtown Saint Paul

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
mulad
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5th & 6th Streets in downtown Saint Paul

Postby mulad » August 9th, 2013, 3:34 pm

Does anyone know of plans to rework the 5th & 6th Street one-way pair in downtown Saint Paul? They seem pretty far under-capacity in terms of overall vehicle traffic. There are bus lanes on the street, though they have frequently been blocked this year due to construction -- 5th Street next to Cray Plaza (Galtier) has often been down to one lane during some utility work this year.

I suspect the buses carry a very large percentage of overall traffic on the roads. A bunch of ideas come to mind for reconfiguring the streets -- the most needed improvement is wider sidewalks (the north side of 6th seems particularly bad). The buses could use better dedicated lanes (currently shared with right-turning traffic). 6th has a stretch of parking allowed effectively in the bus lane on the north side of Mears Park, though sidewalk widening for the Bulldog, Barrio, and another restaurant in that spot may finally take those out. I could imagine Marq2-style double bus lanes on these streets, perhaps as contraflow lanes, but I've also thought about converting both streets to two-way and making one of them into a transit/bike/ped "mall".

Here's a shot I snapped of 6th Street from Wabasha at 3:30 pm today (Friday): All of the vehicles on the right-hand (south) side are parked. Other than one or two of the buses, and a few vehicles in the far distance, the only car in motion was the one that had pulled out of the Macy's parking ramp (left-hand side of photo).

Image

orangevening
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Re: 5th & 6th Streets in downtown Saint Paul

Postby orangevening » August 10th, 2013, 3:49 am

it's funny how takes for granted bike lanes in DT Mpls, when I go to DT St. Paul I miss them

mulad
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Re: 5th & 6th Streets in downtown Saint Paul

Postby mulad » August 10th, 2013, 9:15 am

Yeah, there was a bit of a blow-up on Thursday/Friday when the PiPress ran a piece on the state of bike infrastructure in St. Paul. Russ Stark had the first quote noting the lack of downtown bike lanes in the original article, then there was a follow-up on the paper's City Hall blog.

I'll also mention that Charles Carlson of Metro Transit tweeted a response to me posting the photo, saying that the bus stop at the corner of 6th & Cedar is a top-10 stop with 2,400+ boardings daily, yet it is only a few feet wide. There is a transit center there inside the building, but it's been closed for years now, and I'm not sure it ever worked very well (I think there's only one small door to get people in and out). Still, another instance where there really should be NexTrip signs, maps, and a variety of schedule material available.

mattaudio
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Re: 5th & 6th Streets in downtown Saint Paul

Postby mattaudio » August 10th, 2013, 11:19 am

Hopefully that old Dayton's building gets imploded, and we can get actual decent incremental development on both northern corners of 6th and Wabasha. This has so much potential, and that Daytons building isn't doing anything for downtown.

WRT 5th and 6th, I hope we keep in mind a future Riverview LRT or streetcar... I've always thought this grade change on 5th between Wabasha and Cedar (and between the fortress walls of the PP and Ecolab buildings) would be a natural portal for future trains to go underground, under Rice Park around Xcel and past the hospitals on Smith before emerging from another portal in the cliff by the high bridge. Yes, maybe in 50 years...

In the meantime, I'd like to see these streets calmed with better medians, street trees, etc. They are far too wide in many areas right now, and the transit stops are too small. Would contraflow transit lanes work here, with the traffic lanes being 1 lane except at blocks with significant turning movements?

orangevening
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Re: 5th & 6th Streets in downtown Saint Paul

Postby orangevening » August 10th, 2013, 11:38 am

mulad wrote:Yeah, there was a bit of a blow-up on Thursday/Friday when the PiPress ran a piece on the state of bike infrastructure in St. Paul. Russ Stark had the first quote noting the lack of downtown bike lanes in the original article, then there was a follow-up on the paper's City Hall blog.
Thanks, I don't read the PiPress too often (mainly for this reason). Love the I'm-not-going-to-use-it-so-why-should-I-pay-for-it typical response. It gives me a headache trying to reason with these people.

I'll also mention that Charles Carlson of Metro Transit tweeted a response to me posting the photo, saying that the bus stop at the corner of 6th & Cedar is a top-10 stop with 2,400+ boardings daily, yet it is only a few feet wide. There is a transit center there inside the building, but it's been closed for years now, and I'm not sure it ever worked very well (I think there's only one small door to get people in and out). Still, another instance where there really should be NexTrip signs, maps, and a variety of schedule material available.
A lot of potienal for transit in DT St. Paul. Much more European feel there. be nice to see some movement bus improvement wise.

mulad
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Re: 5th & 6th Streets in downtown Saint Paul

Postby mulad » August 10th, 2013, 11:44 am

Thanks mattaudio -- I've shared your visions of a tunnel portal on 5th between Cedar and Wabasha, though never got far enough to ponder where it might emerge on the other end. And yes, my sense of traffic is that it those streets could probably go down to a single lane for cars except at a few spots -- Probably Jackson and Robert Streets in both directions, and for some reason there seems to be a lot of traffic turning north from 6th to Minnesota in the mornings (heading to one of the Securian garages, maybe?)

Tom H.
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Re: 5th & 6th Streets in downtown Saint Paul

Postby Tom H. » August 10th, 2013, 1:29 pm

Looks like a fun place to go STROADing.

bptenor
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Re: 5th & 6th Streets in downtown Saint Paul

Postby bptenor » August 10th, 2013, 4:02 pm

The whole sidewalk area north of 6th St (between Robert and Jackson) is being rebuilt, and close to finished, I believe. I don't, however, if this improved the bus stop area significantly, or if the sidewalk just needed to be replaced...I haven't gotten a good look at it. I was hoping the 5+6 St improvements would have been done before the Green Line opens, but all I can find is a "vision document" on the St Paul website. These bus stops (and streets) are in desperate need of improvement.

mulad
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Re: 5th & 6th Streets in downtown Saint Paul

Postby mulad » August 10th, 2013, 5:51 pm

Yeah, Securian is redoing the entire plaza/sidewalk encircling their building (400 Robert Street).

the_elop
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Re: 5th & 6th Streets in downtown Saint Paul

Postby the_elop » August 19th, 2013, 12:21 pm

My apartment faces 6th Street between Jackson and Sibley. It's ridiculous how underused 6th Street is in this stretch. It might actually serve automobile traffic at rush hours, but the majority of the day it sits empty or nearly so. And yet we have no east-west bike lanes in downtown St. Paul.

I think I'm most annoyed by the street's expansion from 2 lanes + bus lane to 3 lanes + bus lane for about 3 blocks before reducing to 2 again west of Cedar. Downtown Saint Paul in general seems to have a problem with lanes appearing and disappearing at random. Every day I drive down Jackson and marvel at the curvature of the metered parking that allows for an additional lane that lasts half a block.


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