April 5, 2023

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Dear SOS Supporter,

We climbed the steps to the Minnesota Court of Appeals this morning to deliver oral arguments before a panel of three judges. Our legal team articulated the case for why the City of Saint Paul should conduct an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) before construction plans for the Summit Avenue Regional Trail progress further. Read on for our play-by-play summary.

And thank you to the supporters who showed up and filled the benches inside the courtroom. We also extend a sincere thank you to the supporters who have contributed financially to the legal fund. We could not have made the case today without your support.

We have a link at the bottom if you haven't chipped in and wanted to be asked again ;), here's the ask: Please donate to the cause to save the trees on Summit Avenue, to save the historic streetscape, to create safer pathways for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. Let's continue this fight for all of Saint Paul. It's true... you don't know what you've lost, 'til it's gone.

SOS Steering Committee www.savesummitavenue.org


April 10, 2024


SOS delivers arguments before the Minnesota Court of Appeals



(Saint Paul, MN) Save Our Street (SOS) urged the Minnesota Court of Appeals three-judge panel today to require the City of St. Paul to consider the environmental impacts of the proposed off-road bike trail before proceeding further. Brian Bell, a partner at the Dorsey & Whitney law firm, made the case for why the city should do an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) before the project is too far along to change anything: “The purpose of an EAW is to inform decision making. The law states if there are eminent danger signs to warrant a review, then an EAW should be done as early as possible,” said Bell, during the 20 minute argument. The City as admitted that there will be irreversible loss of trees that form the canopy on Summit Avenue if the trail is constructed, and that qualifies as an eminent danger, said Bell.


In responses to questions by Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Louise Dovre Bjorkman asking if the city had assessed the need for reconstructing Summit Avenue, the city argued that since the Summit Avenue Regional Trail has not been added to the city’s construction schedule, and that there is no clear funding identified, it’s too early to do an EAW, and that if the road is fully reconstructed “Summit Avenue would be torn up anyway.” 


Gary Todd, SOS Steering Committee Chair, believes Judge Bjorkman’s question deserved a straight answer: “The city has not made the case that the whole street needs to be reconstructed. We received reports from the public works department showing that half of Summit was already reconstructed between 1979 and 2013. And if constructions is needed, why can't the city use modern construction techniques for infrastructure upgrades to avoid ripping up the whole street.”

“Century old trees require 100 years to grow back.”

Gary Todd, SOS Steering Committee Chair

“The city ‘s supposed commitment to ‘tree protection is meaningless, since they concede it will be done only ‘where possible.’ If the City took the protective measures, they claim are available, like fencing around every tree along Summit Avenue during construction, there would no space to build the trail. Once the project is allowed to go forward, we can expect the City to conclude that preservation ‘is just not possible after all’ so we can’t do what we promised to protect the trees, and build the trail regardless of the irreversible damage to the tree canopy. 

Century old trees require 100 years to grow back. The citizens will lose the irreplaceable environmental benefits that those trees deliver today for decades and decades while we wait for the replanted trees to grow. Replanting is not preservation. If the City is serious about addressing climate change, then they have to know trees are one of our best weapons, and they need to save the trees and historic streetscape.”



A recap of facts gleaned from 241 pages of the City’s Summit Avenue Regional Trail Plan


·      Constructing a separate raised bike trail and abandoning the existing bike lanes will:

o  Destroy nearly 1,000 mature trees – conservatively.

o  Remove more than half the parking East of Lexington.

o  Irreversibly alter the existing historic streetscape.

o  Increase traffic speeds on Summit Avenue by widening the traffic lanes.

o  Close many of the existing openings for cross streets through the median.

o  Sacrifice several feet of the existing grassy medians and boulevards for asphalt trails and buffers.

o  Create hazards for all users: bikers, pedestrians and motorists, by constructing untested trails that will have to cross 160 driveways, 359 carriage walks, and 46 cross streets with no controls or warning to its users.


To date, 2,850 people have signed the petition on savesummitavenue.org voicing opposition to the City’s plan (scroll to the bottom to view the running total: Save Summit Avenue website


Read the full Historic Summit Ave/Save Our Street (SOS) reply brief here LINK TO SOS Reply Brief

About SOS (Save Our Street)


Save Our Street is a citizen group that seeks to educate and advocate for preserving the historic streetscape of Summit Avenue as a treasured St. Paul destination and a safe, tree-lined, multi-modal corridor for generations to come. https://www.savesummitavenue.org


All donations are welcome! Help us sustain our campaign and legal fight to save Summit Avenue.

Historic Summit Avenue – SOS

c/o Francis Luikart

1905 Summit Avenue

St. Paul, MN 55105

  • Our legal team will provide regular updates to SOS Sustainers (>$500)

  • Remember that SOS is a 501(c)3 non-profit.

Historic Summit Avenue

dba Save Our Street

EIN 92-3253633

  • If you would like to host an event for friends and neighbors to support SOS, please let us know and we will have a member of our ‘speakers bureau’ attend to provide an update.

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SOS Steering Committee Chair: Gary Todd Grtodd@comcast.net 651-470-4720

SOS Public Relations Carolyn Will carolyn@cwcommunications.info 612-414-9661