St. Paul Mayor Carter proposes $20 million for road repair in 2020 budget

'Our residential streets, which have a 60-year lifespan, are currently on a 289-year replacement rate'

Sloane Martin
August 15, 2019 - 4:13 pm

As protesters interrupted the Minneapolis 2020 budget address, on the other side of the Mississippi River Thursday, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter delivered his at the brand new Frogtown Community Center.

The main focus of his speech was public safety, affordable housing and road repair. The $622 million budget calls for five fewer police officers, scaling back free programs for kids and a 4.85% property tax levy increase to address a $ 17.1 million gap. The mayor's office says the increase would result in "$55 per year, or about $4.58 per month for a median value home."

$20.3 million is earmarked for road reconstruction and resurfacing.

"According to our annual report on street conditions, our residential streets, which have a 60-year lifespan, are currently on a 289-year replacement rate," Carter said.

Carter says they’re working with state and county partners to find new funding resources. 

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"St. Paul taxpayers are not alone in using and causing wear and tear on our city streets, and we should not have to bear the cost of maintaining them alone," he said.

Carter proposes making Ayd Mill Road, a longtime headache for drivers, two-lanes for traffic alongside pedestrian and bike trails. 

"We know that some will mock the notion of investing in sidewalks and bike lanes, but here's the simple truth," he said, "Our city has grown by nearly 30,000 people since 2010 and we are projected to add another 30,000 over the next 20 years. Unless our local streets can absorb 30,000 more single-occupancy vehicles than we have today, our only choice is to fundamentally shift our ideas about how people get around our city."

Other portions of the budget proposal include:

-$250,000 to expand hours at recreation centers to accommodate changing St. Paul Public School start times
-$350,000 to upgrade parking meters to meet ADA standards
-$500,000 from the state legislature for a new program called College Bound St. Paul which provides each child born on or after Jan. 1, 2020 in the city with $50 towards a college savings account
-A pilot program called Familiar Faces, an effort between Ramsey County, Region's Hospital and the East Metro Mental Health Roundtable, to provide transitional housing for people who have frequent contact with emergency responders
-Police make up the largest part of the budget, one-third, with a $4.5 million yearly increase. The 2019 budget added 9 new officers and the elimination of mounted and motors units returned 12 officers to patrol duties

Over the next two months, the St. Paul City Council will review the proposal and hold public meetings for feedback. In November, the council will make adjustments, and after it's adopted, it could be signed by Mayor Carter by mid-December.

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