Ayd Mill Road
Ayd Mill Road is a road in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It runs diagonally through Saint Paul, connecting with Interstate 35E at its southeast terminus, and feeds into Selby Avenue at its northwest end. Indirect access to I-94 is possible via Selby and Snelling Avenues. Originally known as the Short Line Road, it was renamed in 1993 for John Ayd, a German settler who maintained a mill and residence in the area in the mid-to-late 19th century.
The foundation of the roadway dates back to the 1880s when the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad acquired the right-of-way of a stream bed to lay down commuter rail. The "Short Line," as it was called, was one of the main interurban routes that served Saint Paul and its railroad suburbs on its way to Minneapolis at the turn of the 20th century. With the advent of the TCRT streetcar system in the 1910s, the line was redundant and was converted to heavy rail by the CMSPP, though it still carried passenger trains between the Saint Paul Union Depot and the Milwaukee Road Depot in neighboring Minneapolis.
In the 1960s, the city of Saint Paul began construction on the Short Line Road, envisioning a below-grade, limited access direct link between I-35E and I-94. However, local opposition in the Merriam Park neighborhood, coupled with the stunted construction of I-35E due to opposition from the Summit Hill neighborhood, kept the vision from being a reality. A connection was made at grade with Selby Avenue, but the connection with I-35E was never made, forcing southbound travelers to exit on Jefferson Avenue when the road first opened in 1965.
Connection with I-35E and current use
For most of its life, Ayd Mill Road was un-striped, and very little traffic was seen on it. In the summer of 1992, the Saint Paul public works department temporarily linked Ayd Mill Road to I-35E to help mitigate traffic congestion during the completion of the interstate in the downtown area, after which the link was barricaded.
In the late 1990s the city again revisited the prospect of the I-35E-to-I-94 connection as part of an environmental study as one of many options for the public right-of-way. Other options included replacing the entire stretch of road with a park. In the end, the city decided the best option was a rebuilt roadway that extended north along the railroad to St. Anthony Avenue, where a connection to I-94 was possible. Though renewed neighborhood protest has blocked this measure, the road has been blacktopped and striped, and the I-35E ramps were reopened after signals were put on Ayd Mill's entrance ramps.
In February 2007 Saint Paul mayor Chris Coleman voiced his intentions to make the I-94 connection a reality.
The adjacent Short Line track is still used today, and Amtrak's Empire Builder now runs on these rails. However, rather than running to Minneapolis, the Empire Builder continues north and west towards Saint Cloud and the Pacific Northwest.
- Empson, Donald. The Street Where You Live. University of Minnesota Press, 2006. ISBN 978-0-8166-4729-3
- Ayd Mill Road, Snelling-Hamline Community Council.
- Ayd Mill Road EIS Summary, City of Saint Paul, February 1999. Retrieved May 11, 2007.
- History of Merriam Park, Ramsey County Historical Society