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St. Paul Park City Council opposes fourth stoplight near Hwy. 61/Summit Avenue

The St. Paul Park City Council is opposed to adding a stoplight at St. Paul Park Road and Summit Avenue, near controlled intersections at the Summit Avenue/70th Street bridge over Highway 61. Bulletin photo by Scott Wente

St. Paul Park officials have put the brakes on another stoplight-controlled intersection near Highway 61 and Summit Avenue.

The St. Paul Park City Council last week rejected a proposal to add a set of stoplights at Summit Avenue and St. Paul Park Road, an intersection a few hundred feet southwest of the highway bridge.

"The design of the highway overpass (at Summit Avenue/70th Street) was to get rid of truck traffic through Newport and give our city an entrance to the freeway," council member Tim Jones explained. "But, the final design was called inadequate by the city engineer and the state refused to change the design. The answer is not a stoplight here. It's a question of how we can use that bridge."

Jones has expressed his qualms about the bridge project since its inception, saying the state of Minnesota "really screwed this up."

There are stoplights at the exit and entrance ramps on each side of the highway bridge, but there only is a stop sign at the nearby St. Paul Park Road intersection, where semi-trucks leaving the oil refinery slowly pull out onto Summit Avenue, sometimes blocking traffic headed down Summit Avenue toward Broadway Avenue.

Despite concern regarding the ease of access and possibility for future accidents, council members agreed that adding a fourth stoplight was not conducive for the congested area. However, the council expressed support for county and state officials to investigate a bridge redesign to better accommodate future commuter and truck traffic.

"We have not had a catastrophic accident at this intersection, but it's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when," Jones said. "Is that what it's going to take for someone to wake up and fix this?"

The Minnesota Department of Transportation last updated the overpass in 2010 when crews laid an unbounded concrete overlay. The $22 million project bypassed traffic to other exits near St. Paul Park for four months during the project.