Jackson Street Reconstruction Creates Backbone of St. Paul Capital City Bikeway System

Challenge

The Jackson Street Reconstruction project encompasses a bustling, nine-block stretch in downtown St. Paul. Given the location, investment and long-term benefit to its users, the project is viewed as one of the most important public realm projects for the City in recent history. In fact, the completed project is now considered to be the backbone of St. Paul's newly established Capital City Bikeway system.

The City sought to change the face of Jackson Street – last reconstructed over 50 years ago – while making downtown St. Paul more "accessible, vibrant and attractive." The City also sought to create a strip that would serve pedestrians, bicyclists, commuters and drivers for the next 50 years. 

The project is located in one of the most densely populated areas of the City, making construction staging and utility relocation critical to meeting the schedule and budget as well as safety requirements. With these needs and the project's importance in mind, St. Paul selected SEH to lead construction management, public utility design and traffic signals design, among other responsibilities. 

Solution

SEH was selected as part of a larger project team that included Toole Design Group and Viet USA (contractor). As a whole, the project team designed and built a multimodal transportation corridor that incorporated green and sustainable features; street accessibility, safety and usability for anyone from the age of 8 years old to 80 years old (more below); as well as new two-way bike lanes elevated to sidewalk level and separated from the roadway, considered to be the first of their kind in the U.S.

The project was expected to take three to four years but was completed in just two years. Specific to SEH’s roles, below is a closer look at how they helped make this timeline and the City’s goals possible.

Construction management
SEH led the preconstruction meeting, weekly construction meeting/site visits, construction staking and surveying, as well as full-time construction monitoring. The SEH team provided an innovative approach to handle the constant communication required to navigate utility coordination and construction administration in a dense and highly trafficked downtown area. This meant handling public and private utility reconstruction while also facilitating communication with impacted stakeholders.

Safety performance
SEH’s phased construction plan made it possible for easily modified measures to be incorporated into the project in real-time in order to accommodate the busy nature of the corridor (including vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists). Special care was taken to ensure a safe work place for not only the contractor and subcontractors, but also the traveling public.

Community relations
This was a highly visible project that affected a number of people and was the first in the City’s 8-80 Vitality Initiative. This initiative seeks to create street accessibility, safety and usability for anyone from the age of 8 years old to 80 years old – which the completed Jackson Street Reconstruction project has done. This made effective communication with the public especially important to avoid negative perceptions or setbacks. SEH established a plan for meaningful stakeholder engagement throughout the two year-long design and construction process. This approach included:

  • Being part of the overall design team
  • Participating in two design charrettes to understand adjacent property owner needs
  • One-on-one meetings with community members and business owners
  • Participation with numerous advisory committees
  • Weekly meeting to provide public with updates
  • Weekly meetings with private utility companies
  • Weekly construction updates to the public, including new maps depicting construction activity
  • Single point of contact phone number for the general public to contact
  • Maintaining overall control of messaging from the City, construction management team and contractor

Green infrastructure
The project needed to incorporate stormwater management features throughout, including the bike path, which was a challenge given the downtown, urban setting. The City and public were concerned about over-infiltrated stormwater entering the basements of downtown buildings and the shallow bedrock. In response, the project team integrated porous asphalt throughout the entire paved trail. This asphalt lets water run through it and soak into the ground below – significantly reducing stormwater runoff, helping to keep the trail, bedrock, street and buildings free of flooding and therefore safer, and directing stormwater into the municipal storm sewer system.

Other green features include linear bioretention best management practices with various tree trench design aspects to provide filtration for the stormwater runoff from Jackson Street and other impervious areas. The bioretention feature and porous asphalt trail are each lined with an impermeable membrane and include draintile that connects to the municipal storm sewer.

Additional efforts
SEH and the team needed to balance the needs of all transportation users in a high traffic area during and after construction of the project. Toward this end, the design team provided the following features:

  • Pedestrian improvements
  • Protected bikeways
  • Traffic signals with added bicycle signals for bicycle movements
  • ADA-compliant curb ramps
  • Utility coordination

The team made these improvements possible through creative design and clear, timely communication. One key accomplishment under these challenging conditions is also one of the signature features of the project: new two-way bike lanes elevated to sidewalk level and separated from the roadway. This has provided wider, safer facilities that are separated by landscaped buffers – and are considered to be the first of their kind in the U.S.

Significant traffic analysis was required to make this protected bikeway possible. SEH performed traffic analysis, modeling and simulation to provide the appropriate traffic signal design in order to support the new two-way protected bike facilities. This was a key step in subsequently providing better facilities and wider sidewalks for pedestrians, and also safe connections to downtown St. Paul for a variety of transportation users. Traffic did not stop during construction; plans included eight temporary traffic signals for the intersections in order to keep traffic moving throughout the project.

SEH worked on Jackson Street from concept through completion, putting the overall team in the unique position to identify and eliminate potential issues before they became problems. It was important to engage stakeholders with wide-ranging needs throughout the project duration – from design to the end of construction. This engagement needed to and ultimately did reflect an understanding of Jackson Street’s unique character and the vision for its future.

As a whole, SEH and the project team implemented a project that has created connections, reflects and adds to the character and culture of St. Paul, and sets the stage for future downtown improvements.

Related Content: Igniting Economic Development through Green Alleys and Alleyway Renovation

Project
Jackson Street Reconstruction

Client
City of St. Paul, Minnesota

Features

  • Backbone of the newly established Capital City Bikeway system
  • Protected downtown bicycle system
  • Connections to regional and State of Minnesota trail systems
  • Traffic signal design that supports the new two-way protected bikeway
  • Green and climate resilient infrastructure
  • Porous asphalt supporting stormwater management
  • 8-80 Vitality Project
  • ADA-compliant curb ramps
  • Landscaped buffers to separate bikeway facility from roadway and pedestrian areas
  • Safer facilities and wider sidewalks for pedestrians
  • New streetscape design

Services

  • Utility design
  • Public utility design
  • Traffic signals design
  • Construction management
  • Phased construction plan
  • Preconstruction meeting
  • Weekly construction meeting/site visits
  • Construction staking and surveying
  • Full-time construction monitoring
  • Traffic analyses
  • Traffic modeling
  • Traffic simulation
  • Stakeholder engagement throughout design and construction process

Awards
Honor Award | American Council of Engineering Companies, Minnesota Chapter (ACEC-MN)

Contact the Team
Wayne Houle
Project Manager
952.238.6540
whoule@sehinc.com

Chad Setterholm
Assistant Project Manager
651.765.2911
csetterholm@sehinc.com

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