Traffic controls coming to handful of busy South St. Paul intersections


Three of the remaining uncontrolled intersections in South St. Paul on Eighth Avenue South will soon have some type of traffic controls after the city council voted Sept. 3 to put in stop signs at one of them and yield signs at the other two. (file photo)

Hannah Burlingame
Review staff

Some control is coming to three currently uncontrolled intersections in South St. Paul, but it may not be the kind residents were hoping for.

The city council voted Sept. 3 to put stop signs at Eighth Avenue South and Spruce Street, while deciding to follow staff recommendation to place yield signs at the intersections of Eighth Avenue South at Richmond and Poplar streets.

Recommendation stays
The council was asked in July to look at controlling three intersections on Eighth Avenue South that many residents refer to as busy and dangerous. 

There had been no formal petition from the neighborhood, or an intersection study at the time. The council could not come to a consensus so it held off on making a decision to give residents a chance to submit petitions regarding traffic controls at the intersections.

Lee Elfering, city engineer, said at the time that at first glance the intersections did not meet the city’s requirements for adding stop signs. City staff proposed adding yield signs at the three crossings.

Since that time, staffers received a valid petition for the Spruce and Eighth Avenue intersection. The city also received a petition for the Poplar Street intersection, but it did not meet the city’s definition of a valid petition.

“We did send that back out to see if the residents in that area could get additional signatures. We did not receive that back,” Elfering said.

Nothing was received regarding the intersection at Eighth and Richmond Street.

Elfering said a full review was done at the Spruce and Eighth intersection because of the valid petition.

“The finding was it did not warrant stop sign control, but we are holding to our recommendation or reaffirming our recommendation that we do think some control is needed there,” Elfering said, pointing out city staff still proposed to put up yield signs.

Residents plea
The council held a public hearing and residents made their case for stop signs.

Jim Miotke, a resident who lives on Eighth Avenue, said seeing around the corners at Eighth and Spruce is very difficult.

“I don’t think yield signs are the answer. I really think stop signs are the way to go,” Miotke said.

“We’re just praying that we don’t smash up into other people. If we get enough accidents, I can come here and say, ‘The law says we can have stop signs now,’ but that’s what we’re waiting on,” he said. 

Beth Miller, another Eighth Avenue resident, said her petition regarding Poplar Street, which was not considered valid, had roughly 60 signatures on it.

Miller said some neighbors refer to Eighth Avenue as Highway 8 and that in the winter, the sight lines get even worse with snow piled up on the corners. She said a yield sign may be better than nothing at Eighth and Poplar, adding the residential intersections have bus stops at them. 

Split decision
Council member Joe Forester had made a motion at the July meeting for stop signs at all the intersections.

“I still support my motion on putting stop signs in,” he said, pointing out he lives between Poplar and Spruce and goes through the intersections numerous times each day. He has had a son crash and total a vehicle at Poplar and Eighth, and a son total another vehicle at Spruce and Eighth over the 30 years he’s lived in his house. 

Forester noted there are just 13 uncontrolled intersections left in the city. 

“In all reality, what we should do is make a motion to put stop signs on the last 13 and get this whole conversation over with, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.  

Forester made a motion to put two-way stop signs in on Eighth Avenue at Spruce Street because there was the valid petition before the council that night.  

Council member Lori Hansen offered what she termed a compromise solution: a stop sign on Eighth and Spruce, with yield signs on the other corners.

“That would be a control factor, and we can watch it and see if it works. If there are more issues down the road, it can always be looked at again,” Hansen said.

Mayor Jimmy Francis said he left a work session thinking the council was on the same page, but Forester’s motion was not part of the discussion, which he said it should have been.

“It is based, I believe, in emotion, not in discussion and/or what was put in front of us by our experts,” Francis said. 

The council voted 6-1 to put stop signs at Eighth Avenue and Spruce Street, with Francis as the lone dissenter.

A motion brought by council member Joe Kaliszewski for stop signs at Poplar Street failed on a 2-5 vote, but a motion for yield signs at the intersections of Poplar and Richmond passed unanimously.

Council members also directed city staffers to look at the policy of uncontrolled intersection in South St. Paul.

 

– Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

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