Help shape the future of Grand Avenue

Help shape the future of Grand Avenue

Zak Yudhishthu, Associate Opinion Editor

Today, we have a unique opportunity to reshape Macalester’s built environment in a more safe, accessible, and enjoyable way. In 2024, a half-mile strip of Grand Avenue, from Snelling Avenue to Fairview Avenue, is going to be torn apart and fully redesigned for the first time in decades. Everything you know about Grand could be different. The future of this road depends on your input.

At the beginning of the fall 2021 semester, I saw that  Macalester had placed warning signs at the mid-block pedestrian crossings. The signs announced that these crossings, which see hundreds of pedestrians every day, are not even real crosswalks. Cars have no duty to stop, and you have the responsibility of not getting hit by a 4,000-pound piece of metal.

Of course, this isn’t sensible street design. By any practical measure, these are real, heavily trafficked crosswalks — yet students don’t even have the right of way. Beyond this perplexing lack of a real crosswalk, they’re dimly lit, making it difficult for nighttime drivers to see crossing pedestrians. And the accessibility is terrible;  people on wheels have to take the long way and cross Grand on Snelling Avenue or Macalester Street, where cars are driving faster and the crosswalks are far longer. 

But bad road design isn’t permanent. The input that students offer now will help determine how St. Paul invests their money in this road. If students emphasize the way that Grand is failing them now, the city will respond. We can advocate for real accessible and clearly designated mid-block crosswalks through campus and intersections that better protect pedestrians and bikers.

Beyond fixing Grand’s current problems, this is an opportunity to imagine more. Would you like to see wider sidewalks and more trees instead of 3 wide lanes for cars? Would you like to replace a few parking spots with public space where people can sit and chat?

Share those thoughts now to help ensure future change. You can fill out the project survey on the city’s website, and visit the Grand Avenue Reconstruction page on St. Paul’s website to learn more.