More detours in store for University area

by Jessica Steeno

Starting today, University commuters will have to cope with yet another detour.
The area between Jones Hall and Fourth Street Southeast, Pleasant Street and 15th Avenue Southeast will be closed. It will be blocked off until early September, said Cari Hatcher, public relations representative for Parking and Transportation Services.
The construction is intended to make the intersection of 15th and University avenues safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.
“The angle of the intersection has proven to be a safety problem with the high level of bicycle and pedestrian traffic,” said Ray Jackson, senior engineer in Facilities Management.
Currently, 15th Avenue Southeast crosses University Avenue and becomes Pleasant Avenue Southeast — a wider road because of a strip of land that divides its lanes. The difference in the width of these roads makes a diagonal cross walk at the University Avenue intersection necessary.
The intersection is a particular problem for people with visual impairments because they are used to straight intersections, and sometimes end up walking in traffic, Jackson said.
During the construction, which is sponsored by Hennepin County, workers will remove 50 feet of Pleasant Avenue’s strip of land, in order to shrink the width of the road to match 15th Avenue Southeast.
“This will make it a more typical, more expected intersection,” Jackson said.
Hatcher noted that traffic around the University will be affected by the road closure because motorists will not be able to enter or exit campus via 15th Avenue or Pleasant Street Southeast.
“The first few days are always chaos, and then people get used it,” she said.
Traffic will have to depend on alternate routes to get access to Jones, Folwell, and other halls on the end of Pleasant Street Southeast near Dinkytown. Hatcher said East River Road and Harvard and Oak streets are acceptable routes.
Hennepin County picked the month of August for construction because there are fewer students on campus during that month than during the regular school year.
Construction will have a minimal impact on traffic and bus systems in the area.