Safer pedestrian crossing at Snelling and Lincoln intersection

Due to a proposal by the High Winds Fund, crosswalk improvements are currently being installed on Snelling Avenue, in the hopes of making a safer environment for pedestrians around campus.

After a few months of having orange pedestrian safety flags at the intersection, flashing light signals were installed earlier this week, making the pedestrian safety features at that intersection more permanent.

The signals are visible to drivers going both directions on Snelling Avenue, and have two light displays facing in each direction. After the display is activated by a pedestrian seeking to cross Snelling, lights will flash in both directions, alerting oncoming drivers that a pedestrian is trying to cross. The lights will be visible many blocks away from the intersection.

According to High Winds Fund Director Tom Welna, the signals offer a “good, long term permanent improvement” to pedestrian safety in the neighborhood.

“The signals tell drivers from a distance that something’s going on ahead,” Welna said.

The High Winds Fund is a Macalester organization responsible for neighborhood relations and beautification. It originally proposed the improvements a few years ago to the Minnesota Department of Public Transportation (MnDOT) and the St. Paul Department of Public Works Department. MnDOT and the City did not adopt the plan initially, but after recent incidents in which pedestrians were hit while crossing Snelling, the plan became much more likely.

Public officials began to install the enhanced crossings last fall, but cold temperatures arriving early made it difficult to install them, and construction had to be halted until this spring. Work at the intersection has been underway the past few weeks, and according to Welna, the signals should be active soon.

The crosswalk cost approximately $45,000, a cost which will be split three ways between MnDOT, the City of St. Paul and the High Winds Fund.

Last summer, two Macalester students were hit and seriously injured while trying to cross Snelling. This was not the only time that a pedestrian was hit trying to cross Snelling, as many other individuals—including Macalester community members—have been injured at that intersection. A few years ago, the High Winds Fund installed a median down Snelling, which slowed traffic and made it slightly safer to cross. However, Snelling is a state highway and has heavy amounts of truck traffic which contribute to dangerous conditions along the road. Because Interstate 35E, which runs through St. Paul, does not allow trucks on the road, much of the truck traffic that runs through the metropolitan area goes on Snelling.

“[The improvements] are good for staff and students, but there is still work to do to make Snelling safe,” Welna said.