St. Paul denies petition requesting environmental review for Summit Avenue Regional Trail

The city of St. Paul has denied a citizen’s petition asking for an environmental review of the Summit Avenue Regional Trail plan.

The plan, which was approved by the St. Paul City Council back in May, hasn’t yet been funded as the Metropolitan Council delayed taking up the plan in late August and hasn’t yet addressed it.

If approved, it would include a raised bike path along Summit Avenue from Mississippi Gorge Regional Park to Samuel Morgan Regional Trail at Shepard Road, which would be separated from the road by a curb. The goal is to protect bicyclists, as at least 31 bicyclist-involved crashes were recorded along the corridor between 2012 and 2021, according to Met Council data.

However, not everyone supports the plan, as some residents believe it would have too great of an impact on the area’s tree canopy and historical landscape while others oppose the project’s nearly $12.5 million cost estimate.

The petition filed with the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (EQB) argued the former issue, although the fact that the project isn’t yet fully approved and funded is enough of a basis for the city to deny the petition.

Still, in its response, the city said it has stressed its intent to replace and protect trees along the corridor if the project is funded. As for the historical argument, the city noted the streetscape isn’t nationally protected.

Therefore, the city denied the petition for environmental review, a letter from Nicolle Goodman, the city’s director of planning and economic development, to the EQB, said.

It’s not yet clear when the Met Council might revisit the trail plan.