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

Challenge

The Jackson Street Reconstruction project involved a nine-block stretch within Downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. This project is viewed as one of the most important public realm projects for the City in recent history. The City sought to change the face of Jackson Street – last reconstructed over 50 years ago – and make Downtown St. Paul a more vibrant place to live, work and shop. The City also sought to create a Complete Street that would better serve pedestrians, bicyclists, commuters and drivers for the next 50 years.

The City selected a team that included SEH and Toole Design Group, as well as Veit USA (contractor). The team was given responsibility to overcome unique challenges during construction – including working with the Xcel Center for traffic generated by Minnesota Wild games and numerous major concerts, as well as CHS Stadium events in the nearby Lowertown Historic District. In addition, this project is located in one of the most densely populated areas of the City. Construction staging and utility relocation was critical for the schedule and budget in addition to the overall safety of the project. 

Solution

SEH led the construction management, public utility design, traffic signals design, in addition to a number of other duties, for a team that was able to design and build a multimodal transportation corridor; one that incorporated not only a green environment, but also pedestrian and protective bicycle facilities. SEH and the project team also provided solutions to meet the City’s need to accelerate a typical three to four year project into two years.

Construction Management

SEH provided the following construction management services: 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.

Schedule Management

Among the solutions offered was the integration of stakeholder engagement throughout the design process. SEH knew the importance of keeping the schedule on track and, with such a visible project, any delays would’ve had subsequent negative effects on the schedule and the public’s perception of the improvements. By handling the challenges of construction management in a dense urban area while helping to weave stakeholder engagement throughout the process, the team was able to successfully manage the construction administration and give the City a successful outcome on the first project funded by an important initiative.

Safety Performance

SEH’s phased construction plan allowed easily modified measures to be incorporated into the project to accommodate the busy nature of the corridor. 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 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
  • Maintained overall control of messaging from the City, construction management team and contractor

Green Infrastructure

The urban setting for this project created a unique challenge: incorporating stormwater management features and their requirements. The City and the 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 bicycle trail, which extends along the length of Jackson Street. This ashpalt 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 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 the street and other impervious areas. The bioretention feature and porous asphalt trail are each lined with an impermeable membrane and incorporate 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. In that context, the design team needed to provide the following improvements and features:

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

The team made these improvements possible through creative design and clear communication. One key accomplishment under these challenging conditions is also one of the signature features of the project: a two-way, separated bikeway. This provides wider, safer facilities that are separated by landscaped buffers.

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 to support the new two-way protected bike facilities. This was a key step in then providing better facilities and wider sidewalks for pedestrians, providing safe connections to downtown St. Paul for a variety of transportation users. Traffic did not stop during construction as plans included eight temporary traffic signals for the intersections to keep traffic moving throughout the project.

SEH worked on Jackson Street from concept through completion, putting the 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 reflect an understanding of Jackson Street’s unique character and the vision for its future.

Ultimately, SEH and the project team as a whole 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. 

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 infrastructure
  • Porous asphalt supporting stormwater management
  • ADA curb ramps
  • Landscaped buffers to separate bikeway facility from roadway and pedestrian areas
  • Safer facilities and wider sidewalks for pedestrians
  • New streetscape design

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

Project
Jackson Street Reconstruction

Client
City of Saint Paul, Minnesota

Services

  • Design
  • Construction management
  • Public utility design
  • Traffic signals design
  • 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

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

Chad Setterholm
Assistant Project Manager
651.765.2911
csetterholm@sehinc.com