East Bank pedestrian bridges closed, slated for replacement

by Justin Ware

University students, faculty and staff can expect to face difficult journeys to and from the Twin Cities campuses this year.

A combination of construction and diminishing parking makes going to class a chore.

On the Minneapolis campus, Washington Avenue construction projects create the need for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic to find new routes in some areas.

The pedestrian bridges connecting the currently under-construction Coffman Plaza with Northrop Mall are closed indefinitely.

Structural engineers deemed the bridges – which for decades took students over the congested avenue -unsafe.

“Portions of the structural beams were deteriorating,” said Orlyn Miller, assistant to the director of planning and programming for Facilities Management.

Miller said it was highly doubtful students were in danger when using the bridge in recent months.

“The engineers took an extremely cautious approach,” he said. “Typically, structures are over-designed with safety in mind.”

Miller said the bridges would need to be unusually overburdened for there to be any danger of collapse.

The University is looking at ways to replace the structures. Officials said they hope to have a plan in place within the next 30 days, with construction beginning in spring 2002.

Miller said it would be ideal to complete the bridges with the completion of the Coffman Union renovation, scheduled for fall 2002.

Those wishing to cross Washington Avenue near the mall can do so near the Weisman Art Museum or at the intersection of Church Street and Washington Avenue.

Commuting to and from the University, as well as parking on campus, are other challenges facing students and faculty.

Vehicles using the Washington Avenue bridge will be slowed in both directions until late September. Hennepin County is using state and federal funds to repaint the bridge and replace its concrete railings.

The county painted the bridge maroon and gold and placed the University’s logo in four locations at the University’s request.

Parking and Transportation Services suggests riding a bike or walking for those who live close to the University.

For those without that option, University and Metro Transit buses are another alternative.

Students can purchase discounted bus passes, known as U-Passes, for $50 per semester. The pass is valid for one semester and allows for an unlimited number of rides on any route.

Passes are available at buspass.umn.edu.


Justin Ware covers construction and
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