Campus traffic keeps rolling

by Anna Ewart

After a rough summer of driving at the University, the first week of classes passed without serious traffic problems.

Members of the University community have experienced some traffic difficulties like increased congestion, but few major incidents have occurred. There were concerns that construction on campus and the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge would make things more difficult.

Mary Sienko, marketing manager for University Parking and Transportation Services, said she feels things haven’t been too bad, but isn’t sure how things will go in the coming weeks.

“I think it’s really going to take probably a week or two, especially with the strike going on now, until things get back to what you might consider normal and to find out what people are really going to do,” she said. “These first few weeks are for testing things out.”

The University encourages other methods of commuting, but also issued new driving directions on its Web site, which are geared toward avoiding the area near the collapse site and navigating other construction on campus.

Kathryn Rierson, a first-year commuter student from Roseville, was surprised by an increase in traffic this week, especially on Highway 280.

“I expected it to be exactly the way it was,” she said. “Usually it takes me 15 minutes to get here, but I had to leave half an hour early.”

Last month Highway 280 was converted into a freeway to lessen traffic. An additional lane was added in each direction to Interstate 94 for the same reason.

The University held a transportation fair during the first two days of classes to provide information to students. The fair was also used to highlight the importance of finding ways to navigate campus and the metro area without using a car.

The monthly price of a Metropass, an unlimited transit pass for faculty and staff, has been reduced from $64 to $45. The U-Pass, for students, has remained the same at $64 per semester.

University spokeswoman Patty Mattern said the price of the U-Pass wasn’t changed because it’s already a good deal.

“Already 20,000 students have them,” she said. “So we really wanted to get more faculty and staff to take the bus to work.”

The University’s Web site also says it has installed additional bike racks to accommodate increased bicycle traffic on campus.

As far as accidents go, there hasn’t been anything big or unusual, said Lt. Chuck Miner of the University police department.

“Our shift sergeants do take notes, and they haven’t noticed anything big,” he said. “During the first week of school there haven’t been any notable or major incidents.”