Neighbors concerned about number of crashes at Como Avenue intersection

Neighbors concerned about number of crashes at Como Avenue intersection

Neighbors concerned about number of crashes at Como Avenue intersection

Como Avenue in St. Paul is a main thoroughfare connecting Highway 280 to Snelling Avenue. There’s an intersection along that route that has neighbors concerned.

There’s a hill, with the road curving, at Como and Hillside avenues. A guardrail stands between traffic and the sidewalk as the road splits.

“People do tend to speed around the curve,” said Elizabeth Lee, who has lived across the street for 25 years. “Every time that there’s either an ice storm, or the beginnings of a snow storm, or the temperatures are changing, we inevitably hear a thud, and then we look across the street and there’s one or more cars piled up that have run into the guardrail.”

There have been at least 11 crashes at Hillside and Como over the past five years, according to St. Paul Police Department data. There have also been two crashes at nearby Knapp Street and Como Avenue since 2022.

Most recently, first responders were called to the Hillside-Como intersection on Dec. 9. The Department of Public Works confirmed it repaired the guardrail a few days later, which was the second time the agency repaired it in the last year.

“It’s sort of disheartening,” Lee said. “We’ve seen the guardrail go out three times and the light pole two times and they keep replacing it, but I don’t think it’s solving any of the problems.”

“It’s pretty terrible,” said Molly Breen, the director of the St. Anthony Park Community Nursery School, located near the intersection. “It’s a safety concern for our students.”

She explained they often walk with the children through the intersection to visit nearby parks and the library.

“We try to avoid crossing at that spot in the wintertime,” Breen said. “This is such a heavy pedestrian area — the University of Minnesota, the elementary school, we have several preschools — and part of why people live here is because it’s super pedestrian-friendly.”

Breen and Lee hope the city will consider making changes to make the intersection safer. They suggest adding speed bumps, a four-way stop at nearby Commonwealth and Como avenues, or signs that warn of the curve and children nearby.

Additional salting and sanding during the winter might also help, they said. 

“When you have something that’s as treacherous as that, I think it’s only a matter of time before it’s not just the guardrail that goes out, and I don’t want that to happen,” Breen said.

St. Paul Public Works Spokesperson Lisa Hiebert told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the section of road was reconstructed in 2017 and “there is no additional roadwork scheduled for this area at this time.”

She said Como Avenue is considered an arterial street that receives regular plowing and anti-icing during weather events. It’s also on the city’s “hills and curves” list that gets additional attention, including salting, brining and plowing.