Stadium construction causes campus congestion

Officials urge patience as streets around campus get needed makeovers.

Diane White

Moving streets, treating soil, addressing parking concerns and closing sidewalks are proving to be the four horsemen of campus stadium construction.

The rerouted section of Huron Boulevard, south of University Avenue at 23rd Avenue, is now open after recent construction, while progress continues on University to widen lanes, which will hold two-way traffic divided by a median in the future.

Sewer work is completed on University Avenue, leaving Oak Street and Huron Boulevard to be finished, stadium project coordinator Brian Swanson said.

The new Oak Street is expected to be finished by July 1. After that, Huron Boulevard, north of University Avenue, will close permanently.

Future traffic will be diverted to the new, widened University Avenue.

on the web

To keep up with the stadium progress, go to: http://www1.umn.edu/stadium/index.php

Swanson said construction is going well. “We are where we need to be,” he said.

The transitway between Oak Street and 23rd Avenue will close June 4, rerouting campus buses, Swanson’s assistant, Sally Westby, said.

Swanson recommends students check the stadium’s Web site for construction updates. The site contains one Web camera, he said, and will add two more in the fall.

Soil Pollution

By mid-June, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is expected to take action regarding the polluted soil on the northeast corner of the stadium site, Swanson said.

Deposits left from companies in the past, mainly railroads, can be treated on or off-site, Westby said. Both approaches will involve a thermal treatment process.

After the MPCA makes its decision, an environmental engineering firm will take charge of the anticipated clean-up project, Swanson said.

Parking

The Hawkeye Lot is closed and the remainder of parking in the Huron Boulevard Parking Complex will close July 1. The Fourth and Oak Street ramps will remain open.

Because the stadium will stand primarily on current commuter parking lots, the project includes plans to build several new lots and expand other existing parking in the area.

Developers bought nearby land, most recently occupied by grain elevators, as a potential site for additional parking, Swanson said.

“The goal is to have as much parking as before when students get back in the fall,” he said.

Boua Xiong, a first-time commuter said she is “just understanding the frustration of driving” to campus. Xiong lived on campus her first three years at the University.

She said she hates arriving 20 minutes before class to park and worries about the worsening state of parking due to stadium construction.

Mary Sienko, marketing director for Parking and Transportation Services, said commuters need to be patient, plan ahead and examine other options like biking, carpooling, walking or parking in St. Paul.

Students can expect a potential increase in the cost of both daily and contract parking, she said, due to increasing maintenance costs.

Commuter and University staff member Sara Cannon found a way to combat the cost and difficulty of commuting. She recently bought a motorized scooter.

“I can’t imagine it’ll get any better,” Cannon said, referring to University traffic congestion.

A “political project” has been little more than an inconvenience, she said.

Pedestrians/Bikers

Steve Sanders, a project manager at Parking and Transportation Services, said pedestrians should be aware of sidewalk closing notices from the city.

Safety concerns are substantial for bikers and walkers, Sanders said, adding that there are more sidewalks now than before construction.

The TCF Bank stadium is scheduled to open in 2009. Its anticipated cost is $288 million.