City of Minneapolis and UMN reach agreement on 8th Street redesign

The project, which was originally scheduled for 2014, was postponed due to construction on Athlete’s Village.

Construction on 8th Street SE is active on June 23. The project was put off because of Athlete's Village construction, and the delay caused additional costs.

Tony Saunders

Construction on 8th Street SE is active on June 23. The project was put off because of Athlete’s Village construction, and the delay caused additional costs.

Helen Sabrowsky

Last week, a Minneapolis City Council committee authorized a cooperative agreement between the University of Minnesota and the City of Minneapolis which requires that the University reimburse the City for a redesign of 8th Street SE in Dinkytown.

Construction on the street was originally scheduled for 2014, but was postponed until 2019 due to the construction of the University’s Athlete’s Village, which was completed last February, said Ole Mersinger of Minneapolis Public Works. Construction on the new facility caused additional damage to the street that will be addressed in the redesign. 

The original plans were almost complete at the time of the project’s delay, he said. 

Changes in City policy mean the original design proposed in 2012 wouldn’t be up to current standards, said Ward 3 City Council member Steve Fletcher.

“Since 2012, we’ve passed new policies on how we do roads,” Fletcher said. “We passed a complete streets policy, so there would be more of an emphasis on pedestrian safety, for example, than we previously did in our road engineering, so it would make sense that they re-look at the design.”

Athlete’s Village also affected the geometry of the area, including changes in driveways, which contributed to the need for a redesign, said Mersinger. 

While postponing construction on 8th Street SE was an inconvenience, it made more sense to finish Athlete’s Village before beginning construction on the road, he said. 

“We’re always working with our partners to address the main goal of the project, and to put a new street in and then have construction traffic driving over [the new street] isn’t the best idea,” Mersinger said.  

Athlete’s Village officially broke ground in fall of 2015. Now residents in the area are facing additional construction due to the 8th Street SE project. 

While construction can be an burden, it’s a consequence of living in a city, said Fletcher, who would rather residents be inconvenienced for a short period of time than have run-down roads in the neighborhood.

Suh Koller, a recent University graduate who lives nearby in Como, said construction in the area hasn’t been a disruption in the past. 

“For me, personally, it’s never really been an issue, but I can recognize that it can be a hindrance to people who have to drive in to school or live nearby,” she said. 

Mersinger said he doesn’t expect there to be any complications with the redesign.

“It’s a pretty straightforward little project that is needed for the area,” he said.