Officials set construction plans in motion

by Heather Fors

University commuters will soon buy aspirin in bulk quantities to prepare for the constant pounding of road construction season.
Construction officials are wrapping up efforts which began last year in Dinkytown and Stadium Village and setting new projects in motion. The University, city, county and state public works departments all participate in the construction and repair.
But analyzing streets and prioritizing projects is only a portion of an extensive process.
Mike Kennedy, street maintenance engineer for the city public works department, explained that public feedback and constant analysis provide city construction officials with a good idea of what repairs need to be done each year.
In addition to complaints registered by people who call or write in, the public works supervisors consistently critique city street conditions. “It’s just knowing what’s out there,” Kennedy said.
He also said they have a 10-year plan to apply seal coat to city streets, meaning they fix any problems such as potholes or cracks. They do this by pouring liquid asphalt on streets and covering them with granite chips.
The University employs similar strategies for taking care of its paved surfaces. In addition to regular maintenance checks, University maintenance officials also rely on complaint calls and assessments.
Three years ago, the University hired a consultant to assess all pavement on campus. This consultant visually and mechanically analyzed streets, sidewalks and plazas to determine whether they were solid.
The advisor helped develop a 10-year program to plan for all University paved areas, ranging from maintenance to reconstruction.
For this spring, much of the up-coming major road reconstruction will occur on the St. Paul campus at Buford Circle. However, other road construction also will be done on the East Bank at Lily Plaza between Northrop Auditorium, Morrill Hall and Pillsbury Hall. Landscaping on Fourth Street, left over from last years’ city construction project, will also be finished.
“Sure it’s a hassle, but it’s got to be done,” said Jennifer Hoyer, a first-year graduate student who commutes to the University. “I guess a few minutes of slow-down is worth it for not hitting a pothole and busting a tire.”
Many of the University’s construction and repair projects are still pending because they rely on other city and University construction projects, such as the possible renovation of the Architecture Building and the possible installment of water lines by the city on Huron Boulevard.
Mike Ramolae, assistant director in charge of facilities for Parking and Transportation Services at the University, said they take a very reactionary role in repair, usually waiting to see what other major projects are planned before planning their own.
“You don’t want to put new things in an area where they’ll be taken out,” Ramolae said.