Roadwork underway around Dinkytown

by Jonathan Bethely

Employees at the Amoco station on University and 10th avenues — in the heart of construction territory — sat on their hands all day Thursday. Business was dead.
“Usually, we get about 15 or 20 cars on my shift,” said Mark Staats, a mechanic who works on commission at the full-service station.
“We haven’t had business for two days because of the barricades on University Avenue,” Staats said of the blocked entrance into and out of the station.
University Avenue is now closed from 10th Avenue to Oak Street and that traffic is detoured to Fourth Street. Normal Fourth Street traffic is now carried on Fifth Street.
Thursday was the first day commuters tested the detour patterns along University Avenue and Fourth Street. The congestion lived up to most people’s expectations.
“It was pretty nuts,” said Barry Boshold, president of the Dinkytown Business Association. Out of his office in the University Technology Center on Fifth Street, he saw a head-on collision near the parking lot.
Boshold said area businesses worked with the city to make sure proper parking and detour signs were in place to prevent added confusion.
Businesses along the main streets in Dinkytown aren’t experiencing too many difficulties, Boshold said.
“I haven’t heard any complaints,” said Tammy Henry, manager of Fowl Play. “It wasn’t a significant change.”
For commuters traveling through Dinkytown, heavy traffic wasn’t as bad as the confusion that led to several accidents.
Joe Rosemeyer, a Minneapolis police officer directing traffic along University Avenue, said he expects delays as long as the detour is enforced.
Bruce Polaczyk, a Hennepin County design engineer in charge of the construction project, said radio reports of the traffic in Dinkytown on Thursday morning were encouraging.
Polaczyk said he will continue to monitor area traffic to make sure traffic patterns don’t become more congested than expected. One thing he will watch is the timing of signals on the detoured streets.
This is the first of four phases of construction. This phase will last until November. The other phases will include reconstruction of Fourth Street, and the final two phases involve landscaping in Dinkytown, including trees, grates and ornamental lights. The entire project is slated for completion in fall 1997.
Metropolitan Council Transit Operations, which runs the city’s buses, handles more than 1,000 detours each year. The Dinkytown construction project isn’t as troublesome as some of the other projects in the Twin Cities, said Street Operations Manager Dick Loeffler.
“Transit buses are on a schedule,” Loeffler said. If extra time is needed in order to keep buses on schedule, Loeffler said, they will provide schedule cards to inform passengers.
“Time is money,” he said.