Study outlines prestadium work

Lora Pabst

The University community can expect to see some big changes on the site of the proposed on-campus Gophers stadium if the project is approved.

The draft environmental impact statement for the proposed on-campus Gophers stadium site analyzed how a stadium would affect the surrounding environment.

The study addressed issues considered potentially significant, mainly traffic and parking, as well as environmental contamination.

Parking and roads

There would be major adjustments to the existing infrastructure because the proposed stadium would be in the middle of the current Huron Boulevard parking complex.

After the lots are demolished, new parking lots and their entrances would be behind the stadium.

Parking on campus would not be greatly changed. The current number of parking spots at the proposed stadium site is 2,901. There would be three fewer parking spots after construction.

University project coordinator Brian Swanson said there are significant road changes people on campus would notice.

Portions of Huron Boulevard would be removed and University Avenue would be widened to become a two-way road from Oak Street to 23rd Avenue. Oak Street will curve to the right, to make room for a new plaza in front of Williams Arena.

Since one of the major concerns for the stadium project is traffic, these changes would be implemented to deal with an influx of cars during events at the stadium.

Traffic

The study analyzed traffic at intersections on campus, comparing current conditions to potential conditions in 2009, when the stadium is forecast to open.

“Six of the intersections analyzed on the East Bank campus are expected to operate poorly Ö during the arrival peak hour for a Saturday football game in 2009,” according to the document. The arrival peak hour is 11 a.m. to noon.

Five intersections are expected to operate poorly during departure peak hours, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., for Saturday football games in 2009, according to the document.

“The overarching thing we take into account is, it’s only seven Saturdays a year,” Swanson said.

The company Short Elliott Hendricksons coordinated the study. Christian Hiniker, principal project manager for transportation planning services at the company said the University is developing a travel demand management plan to accommodate some of the anticipated traffic issues.

The plan would make use of regional public transportation, provide information about parking to patrons before events, establish an event manager position to schedule and oversee stadium events, use message signs and traffic controllers to guide traffic and control pedestrian movement.

Environmental issues

Another significant issue analyzed in the study is environmental contamination. The stadium site is the former home of a wood treating facility, a rail yard, a bulk petroleum storage facility, a grain elevator and an asphalt plant, according to the document.

Swanson said there have been investigations of wood treating and petroleum storage.

“Those were known areas to have problems,” he said.

As part of the statement, a new study was conducted to identify any other environmental issues.

The conclusions of the draft did not show enough contamination to warrant a cleanup on its own, Swanson said.

Instead, individual environmental issues will be addressed as they arise during construction.

The University will have a public meeting to review the document and address any questions at 6 p.m. Nov. 10 at University Lutheran Church of Hope, 601 13th Ave. S.E. An open house will be held at 4:30 p.m. until the meeting. Public comments will be accepted until Nov. 23. The final environmental impact statement will be presented to the Board of Regents in February.