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Ramsey County Public Works



Ramsey County was designated a fully urbanized county with the release of the 1990 Census.  This urbanization process started over a century ago and developed today's transportation system.  The effects of the past continue to form the basis for the present transportation network in Ramsey County.

In the 1860's, the dominance of water transportation brought clusters of settlers near the Mississippi River.  Early roads connected St. Paul with Stillwater, St. Anthony, Little Canada and White Bear Lake.  All of these were mere trails and during the winter months were normally impassable.

With the arrival of the railroads in the late 1800's, the population concentration near the river soon shifted to other parts of the County.  By 1900, the railroads had defined two corridors of development in Ramsey County:  one to the northeast of St. Paul and one to the northwest.  These corridors consisted of separate communities strung along the railroad.  The northeast corridor contained the industrial village of North St. Paul and the resort town of White Bear Lake.  The northwest corridor crossed the agricultural areas of what is now Roseville to the village of New Brighton.  The north central section of the County was sparsely settled with no clearly emerging orientation.

In the early 1900's the automobile changed development trends as profoundly as the railroad had changed growth patterns a half century earlier. Residential development began to disperse as the ease of travel between all points in the County increased as a result of automobile use. Intra-county circulation became more important and a grid road network was established along section lines.   Even today, some of these roads continue to be the more important roads in the County.  By 1938, the County was responsible for 204 miles of county and county state aid roads of which 35 miles were paved roadway, 77 miles bituminous and 90 miles were gravel roads.

During the 1950's the Federal Aid Interstate highway system was begun which had a significant impact on cities and suburbs. Between 1950 and 1990, over 500 miles of new major metropolitan highways were built in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area to serve the growing region.  Interstate Highways serving Ramsey County are:  I94, I694, I35E and I35W.  The availability of access to the interstate system has attracted and will continue to attract residential, commercial and industrial development in Ramsey County.


The Ramsey County Public Works Department employs 156 people who plan, program, maintain and construct 283 miles of roads which make up the County highway system.  The highway system is comprised of intermediate type roads consisting of minor arterials and collectors carrying 1,700,000 vehicle miles per day.  Many carry ADT's in excess of 20,000 vehicles per day.  Ramsey County Public Works Department also provides a variety of special services to other County Departments and municipalities.