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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

Como community reacts to construction

The partial road closure has rerouted buses and disturbed nearby businesses.

Convenience hit a roadblock for commuters in the Southeast Como neighborhood.

For the third summer in a row, Como Avenue Southeast has been partially closed for construction. For the last two summers, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway worked on railroad tracks near 22nd Avenue Southeast alongside road construction in the same area, according to Jenifer Loritz, project engineer in the City of Minneapolis.

Loritz expects road work on the remaining segment of Como, between 22nd and 24th avenues, to run from June through August.

Transit concerns

With a heavily used road like Como Avenue Southeast closed to through traffic, commuters suffer an obvious strain.

Car traffic is diverted to East Hennepin Avenue, starting at either 18th or 29th avenues. But some drivers do not follow the detour, or drive too fast down these city streets, said James DeSota, neighborhood coordinator at the Southeast Como Improvement Association.

Chemistry junior Jeremiah Peterson is the chair of the SECIA Safety Committee. He urged drivers to follow the posted signs.

“The increased traffic is a safety concern,” he said.

Cam Gordon, city council representative for Ward 2, said the council discussed traffic concerns at a meeting May 24.

He said he was hopeful construction would be over soon to alleviate inconvenience to the Como community.

Metro Transit has altered bus route 3, which serves Como Avenue Southeast. The detour for the bus is between 22nd and 29th avenues.

Construction has restricted parking on 22nd Avenue to only one side of the street in order to accommodate the buses. Stops have been added on 22nd and 29th avenues, and the bus picks up riders along East Hennepin Avenue.

The construction has not affected scheduled bus stop times, said Bob Gibbons, spokesman for Metro Transit.

Reduced summer ridership on the route cancels delays caused by the slightly longer detour, Gibbons said.

He said there has been no discussion about the potential difficulty of continuing the detour into fall semester, since construction is expected to be completed by then.

Gibbons said the additional stops help some riders, although people who live south of Como Avenue might face up to a four-block walk to find a bus stop.

Hurting business

Along with the strain on commuters, the ongoing construction has hurt local businesses.

The Tea Leaf Gallery, formerly located on Como and 26th avenues, was forced to relocate last summer due to construction, said owner Kelli Fifield.

“If I had tried my damndest, I wouldn’t have been able to stay in business,” she said.

Fifield said the city told her to tell customers to use alleyways, which Fifield called unfeasible. Construction also affected physical comfort.

“It was exceptionally hot, but you had to keep the windows closed because of the noise,” she said.

When Fifield relocated, even the movers she hired weren’t able to get to the gallery because of the construction.

Fifield said business isn’t as strong at the new location on East Hennepin Avenue.

Going forward

Railroad work finished June 1, allowing final phases of the construction to begin.

Work on water pipes is expected to continue for an additional two to three weeks and then pavement work should begin, according to a voicemail Gibbons received from the city.

Gibbons said there are delays. The city told him road work would begin on June 4, but will not actually start until June 8.

Until road work begins, Como Avenue is open to through traffic, though construction cones have narrowed the route.

Gibbons said Metro Transit will stick with its current detour because the road’s condition is uncertain, and it wants to maintain convenience for riders.

“It wouldn’t make sense,” he said.

Metro Transit sends its bus drivers text messages notifying them to continue following the detour.

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