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Thursday, October 21, 2021

To boost safety, the Robert Street Underpass in West St. Paul is ready for use

The Robert Street Underpass in West St. Paul is officially open and ready for bikers, pedestrians and skaters looking for a safe way to connect to the library, parks and more.

The underpass is a new tunnel installed under Robert Street between Thompson and Wentworth Avenues. Along with giving residents the option of crossing a busy road, it helps to connect the river to the River Greenway Trail.

To commemorate the completion of the construction, there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony in the east side of the underpass at 10.30 am on Thursday. In attendance will include West St. Paul Mayor Dave Napier and State Representative Rick Hansen, county officials and others. There will also be a self-guided tour.

The underpass will help pedestrians and bikers to cross the busy Robert Street safely.

City Council member John Justen said, “I heard from residents who supported that they had children who went to school in Garlow (Elementary), but they lived on the other side of Robert Street and their children wanted to go to school. ” They did not feel safe as they crossed Robert Street.

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Since it is a regional trail, Napier said he hopes it will attract visitors who will support the West St. Paul businesses along Robert Street.

Dakota County Chief Planner John Merton said the $4 million underpass is a significant portion of the River-to-River Greenway, a 7.7-mile stretch that will connect Lilydale, South St. Paul, West St. Paul and Mendota Heights.

When Dakota County first began planning a river-to-river greenway, they identified Robert Street as a place in need of a safe crossing. West St. Paul was also discussing a new crossing around the same area, so Dakota County incorporated the West St. Paul’s vision into its master plan, Merton said.

“In my mind, it’s a win-win as much as you can put in a row,” Justin said.

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