Washington Avenue construction to cause traffic jam

by David Anderson

For the next two summers, commuters will face traffic buildup along a main University artery as the Washington Avenue Bridge is given a new look.
The $5.8 million project to repaint the bridge railings maroon and gold and replace all concrete railings with new ones will start Monday.
The project will be supported by federal and state funds.
“I wouldn’t think something like this would cost that much,” said John Knudsen, spokesman for Hennepin Country Public Affairs. “But it’s a two-part deal: removing the lead and repainting the thing.”
Knudsen said although the county decided to renovate the bridge a few years ago, University President Mark Yudof was behind the maroon and gold colors.
The renovation process begins Monday on the median areas of the bridge, but April 24 is when the work will really start affecting traffic.
Westbound lanes will be closed between Kolthoff Hall on the East Bank and Willey Hall on the West Bank until Labor Day. Two-way traffic along the bridge for that period will run along the current eastbound lanes.
In spring 2001, the renovation process will switch sides: Hennepin County will close eastbound lanes and reroute two-way traffic to the north side of the bridge.
The county also plans to close off Pleasant Street to westbound traffic heading for the bridge.
The Willey Hall bus stop may be relocated slightly west, but Bonnie Olson, a Metro Transit customer relations representative, said she hadn’t been informed about any decision from above.
“They just don’t know the ins and outs of what they’re going to do,” she said.
In addition, the University will fund renovation work on the pedestrian level of the bridge, which may periodically restrict pedestrian and bicycle access to one side.
Hennepin County plans to complete the entire project by the start of fall semester 2001.

David Anderson covers International Perspectives and Professional Schools and welcomes comments at (612) 627-4070 x3237.