MnDOT working to improve pedestrian safety across state through 'demonstration projects'

Brett Hoffland
Updated: December 17, 2020 06:28 PM
Created: December 17, 2020 03:44 PM

The Minnesota Department of Transportation wants to improve pedestrian safety all across the state. And they're doing so through demonstration projects. 

They want Minnesotan's opinions on how effective the work is, and whether communities might benefit from it. 

One of the locations for the demonstration projects is in St. Paul at the intersection of Robert and Isabel streets. 

In fact, Cassaundra Dickerson-Smith, who lives nearby, says the worst case scenario happened not too long ago in this area. 

"A kid got hit not even a year ago right up there. Not even a block away,"  Dickerson-Smith said.

But thanks to MnDOT, this location now has curb extensions, safety bollards, and high visibility crosswalks. 

"I think it's awesome, they should keep it here," said Kasandra Montileaux, who lives nearby. 

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Jake Rueter with MnDOT says this location in St. Paul is one of several places statewide selected as a demonstration project to try and improve pedestrian safety.

"It's a chance for us to try some things out and see what works," Rueter said. 

What's key about this project is MnDOT is using low cost and easily accessible materials to make improvements. It allows them to potentially bring safer intersections to more communities.

"Our hope is that yeah, we can use these as a way to address places where we have known safety issues," Rueter said. 

But Dickerson-Smith doesn't know if the design is the answer.

"I really haven't seen much change," she said. "People are still speeding through here."

She believes more lights at intersections like this could be helpful.

"I appreciate the effort with the state but we got to try something else," Dickerson-Smith said. 

Since 2017, MnDOT says the number of pedestrians killed in a year has been anywhere from 42 to 50.

"We know that each of these crashes is a devastating impact on people's families (and) communities," Rueter said. 

It's another reason Rueter and MnDOT think these projects are so important.

"It's a trend that's not budging and we know we need to do something about it in our system," Rueter said. 

To weigh in on the state's pedestrian safety plan, click here

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