St. Paul Parking Pains After Major Ramp Closure

“We’re just sort of being thrown into different ramps and it’s day by day.”

Edgar Linares
May 21, 2018 - 7:22 pm

By Edgar Linares

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It’s not exactly clear how long the RiverCentre Parking Ramp on Kellogg Boulevard in St. Paul will stay closed after a chunk of concrete fell onto a car there last week.

“We’re working with a third-party engineering firm that has inspected this ramp in the past,” said Laurie Brickley, a spokesperson for the St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspection. “They will complete the inspection this week, we hope.”

Last Wednesday, a piece of concrete measuring 2 feet by 3 feet fell on to a car parked at the ramp. On Thursday, the City of St. Paul decided it would be best to close down the ramp and get a thorough inspection.

“We’re in day four of that, inspecting, testing and removing any loose concrete,” said Brickley on Monday.

The closure of the ramp means that 1,600 spaces are not accessible in downtown St. Paul near the Xcel Energy Center, including 600 contracted spaces.

“They’ve had to close off levels throughout these last two years, so we’ve had inconveniences that way before… so I’d rather just have them fix it,” said Maggie Smith, who pays for a contracted parking space at the RiverCentre Ramp.

“But it’s just disappointing they didn’t have a plan for us who rely on that every day," she said.

Brickley said so far they’ve been able to accommodate commuters at other ramp locations in the city, but Smith said it’s becoming a bit of a hassle to find a spot near her job.

“We’re just sort of being thrown into different ramps and it’s day by day,” said Smith.

Janet Peterson, another RiverCentre commuter, said it hasn’t been a major problem for her. However, she’s concerned about closing the ramp long-term.

“All the ramps they gave us access to are kind of all in the same area,” said Peterson. “Long-term, I’m concerned that if we lose that many spaces it’s going to be a real crunch to get on the waiting list for a different ramp.”

Before the concrete fell, the City of St. Paul was hoping to get funding to replace the 48-year old aging ramp from State lawmakers. Commuters like Peterson and Smith say they’ve seen first-hand issues with ramp that are alarming.

“You can tell there’s a ton of water damage,” said Peterson. “They do a great job of trying to keep up with it, but you can only do so much."

Smith says the damage has motiviated her to find parking on a higher level of the ramp.

"We saw people working, we saw chunks [of concrete] on the ground, we saw water leaking, so I started parking on the top level,” said Smith

City leaders were hoping the legislature would include $58 million in a final version of the bonding bill to replace the ramp, and are hoping the governor would sign it. The city would then match the $58 million to finish the project that could take two years to complete.

Two million people use the ramp each year and it generates $12 million in tax revenue for St. Paul.

Brickley hopes to have more information by the end of the week on the future of the ramp, for now the parking pains will persist.

“It’s going to be tough. On busy days, it’s probably time to work from home,” said Smith.