Met Council approves Summit Avenue bikeway as Court of Appeals asks city of St. Paul for more information

The Metropolitan Council, the seven-county metro’s regional planning agency, voted this week to approve adding a protected 5-mile bikeway along Summit Avenue to its long-range plans, making the city’s proposed corridor eligible for regional funding.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Court of Appeals has asked the city for more information related to its recent decision not to complete a requested environmental review of the project.

The Met Council voice vote, which took place Wednesday and was not unanimous, had initially been scheduled for mid-August. Two members of the Met Council — retired environmental engineer Gail Cederberg and Wendy Wulff — voted against the proposal.

The vote was delayed this summer when opponents petitioned the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board to require an environmental assessment of the city’s proposed bikeway, which would be elevated to the same level as the sidewalk. Opponents have expressed concern about potential impacts to the tree canopy, among other considerations.

The state board designated the city as the appropriate authority to oversee the environmental review, but city officials declined, noting the project was largely a concept, and neither fully designed nor funded.

Homeowner Gary Todd and the coalition known as Historic Summit Avenue/Save Our Streets has appealed the city’s decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which on Tuesday ordered the city to deliver to the court an “itemized statement of the record, exhibits and proceedings … so that this court may review the decisions of the city of St. Paul.”

The writ requires the city to comply within 30 days.

Bikeway opponents continue to press forward with a lawsuit against the city seeking copious public records related to the planning of the regional trail.

The St. Paul City Council voted 6-1 in May to approve the bikeway, which has drawn strong feeling on all sides from city council candidates in the Nov. 7 election.

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