Lauderdale considering options for Eustis Street

By Anne Holzman

Officials in Lauderdale are considering whether to accept ownership of Eustis Street on the steep slope south of Larpenteur Avenue.

In exchange Ramsey County, which currently owns the strip, would add a sidewalk and cover construction costs when they repave the street as scheduled in 2025.The city would accept responsibility for maintenance going forward.

If the city turns down that proposal, the county will upgrade drainage, improve the intersection at Larpenteur and repave the road, charging the city cost-sharing fees of about $600,000. In that case, they would not add a sidewalk. The county would be responsible for ongoing maintenance.

This possible scenario is emerging in the wake of neighbors campaigning for years to have a sidewalk installed along the stretch, which connects Lauderdale to the Route 3 bus stop at Como and Highway 280, as well as to St. Anthony Park amenities.

Ramsey County has rejected the sidewalk proposal because of safety hazards and the difficulty of meeting disability access requirements.

Last fall, Ramsey County recruited engineering students from the University of St. Thomas to propose solutions to the site’s steep grade and drainage problems. They came up with four alternatives, including a sidewalk on either the east or west side of the street, bolstered by retaining walls.

This past February, county engineer Alan Maxwell appeared before the Lauderdale City Council to introduce the plans. Neighbors were invited to an open house on March 7, where they could vote on the plans.

At its March 28 meeting, the council discussed reactions from the open house.

Council member Jeff Dains said he hears “over and over” about Eustis Street and knows people who walk down that hill to catch the bus.

City Administrator Heather Butkowski reminded the council that Metro Transit plans for Bus Rapid Transit Line H may affect Route 3.

Mayor Mary Gaasch said, “All the votes were for the sidewalk options.” But the council agreed that the open house format had not allowed for a clear explanation of comparative costs, so Maxwell came back to the council on April 25 with the $600,000 estimate and cost-sharing details.

City Administrator Heather Butkowski told the Bugle in early May that city staff and council will revise their long-term financial plan this summer and decide on the ownership question. They need to decide how to proceed on the project by late 2024, when the county will put the project out for bid, assuming that it remains a county road.

Either way, Butkowski said, the county will go ahead with the work in 2025. 

Anne Holzman is a Bugle freelance writer who covers Falcon Heights and Lauderdale government news.

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