Walking-bridge construction to clog traffic, shift bus lines

Courtney Lewis

As construction season begins, campus travelers will feel the impact of slow traffic and relocated bus stops.

The University’s latest construction endeavor – two pedestrian bridges crossing Washington Avenue between Coffman Union and the Northrop Mall – promise to slow drivers down and detour bus riders to different stops.

Building of the two pedestrian bridges will begin Tuesday.

While Washington Avenue will remain open throughout the construction, the road will merge into single lanes in both directions.

Bus stops located between the two bridges will be closed until Facilities Management’s slated completion date in mid-September.

Jen Rowe, communications specialist with Facilities Management, said it has been encouraging pedestrians to cross Washington Avenue at Church Street or at the walkway near the Weisman Art Museum.

“It will probably be a little more congested, especially during heavy traffic hours before nine and from three to five,” Rowe said.

Both campus shuttle and Metro Transit buses will be relocating their stops two blocks east.

Campus shuttle bus riders must board at Weaver-Densford Hall for eastbound buses and in front of the Transportation and Safety Building for westbound buses.

Metro Transit riders will have a route similar to campus buses, but the city buses will also stop at Amundson Hall.

Since the stops are relatively close to their prior locations, Rowe said she doesn’t think it will be a big problem for pedestrians to readjust.

“People will have to get used to the new bus stops,” she said.

Sia Lo, a College of Liberal Arts freshman, has made do without the bridges her first year on campus, but said she’s looking forward the
project’s completion

Lo sees the construction as an inconvenience but said the finished bridges will be a nice addition to campus.

“(On Tuesday) you’ll have to change your schedule around to make time to walk from new stops,” Lo said. “Once they’re done, it’ll be nice not to walk around to the light or wait for cars in order to cross the street.”

The new bridges will cost the University $400,000, using some of the $4.5 million coming from the state as part of an initiative to improve campus safety.

In a 1999 bridge inspection, Hennepin County officials deemed the old bridges in poor condition and said future wear and tear would make them unsafe.

The new bridges will have an internal heating system to melt snow and ice. Only the east bridge will have steps, and both will be less steep than the previous bridges.