Crime, Law and Justice

Building linking downtown St. Paul light rail station to skyway will close temporarily

A light rail station in the middle of a city
The tower connecting the Green Line's Central Station to the skyway in downtown St. Paul is seen on Wednesday. It will be temporarily closed starting next Tuesday.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

A building connecting a downtown St. Paul light rail station to the skyway will be closed beginning next week amid growing safety concerns in the area.

The elevator and stair tower at Central Station, on the corner of Fifth and Cedar, was the scene of a double homicide earlier this month. That shooting prompted a virtual town hall hosted by City Council Member Rebecca Noecker on Monday night, where community members voiced their concerns.

City and Metro Transit officials announced the temporary closure of the building at that meeting.

While the closure of the elevator and stairs could last until April, Metro Transit Police Chief Rick Grates said in an interview with MPR News that they are hoping to make safety improvements and reopen the building sooner.

“Our goal is to fix it now and get it reopened as soon as possible,” Grates said.

Grates said Metro Transit, in collaboration with the St. Paul Police Department and the city's Office of Neighborhood Safety, has been implementing a safety and security plan throughout 2022. The plan includes increasing security at Metro Transit’s busiest stations, something they are considering for Central Station.

St. Paul Police Senior Commander Jason Mollner said that while the building and light rail station are under Metro Transit’s jurisdiction, the surrounding areas are also a part of the conversation and planning.

“We look at these problems always holistically,” he said. “Not just how can the police department fix this problem, it's how we can best partner with all of our entities downtown.”

Brooke Blakey, director of the Office of Neighborhood Safety, said that while downtown has changed in the past few years amid the pandemic, the city is aware of community concerns and is working with stakeholders in revitalization efforts of the downtown area.

“We're not delusional, to believe that everything is going to be utopian,” Blakey said. “There's a lot of key players in revitalization and reimagination. And with everything, it takes time.”

The closure announced earlier this week will take effect on Tuesday, Dec. 27. Inclement weather and accessibility concerns played a role in the delay.