Road changes pave the way for new stadium

Construction on roads near the stadium site is scheduled to begin this spring.

Charley Bruce

Road realignment is the next step in the construction of the University’s new TCF Bank Stadium and is due to begin this spring.

The Minneapolis City Council approved roadway alterations last week that will reroute major roadways in the campus area in preparation for stadium construction.

Street construction will begin in spring 2007, ending in time for construction on the stadium to begin mid-July.

Brian Swanson, the University’s stadium project coordinator, said the process for developing these roads began about a year ago. The public, neighborhoods, city and other interested parties reviewed the road changes in environmental and transportation impact studies.

Jim Rosvold, president of the Stadium Village Commercial Association, said there were public hearings where the business association and the public were informed about the future changes.

He said he didn’t think the road construction would negatively affect business and it might help because construction crews will be eating at restaurants in the area.

The biggest concern, Rosvold said, would have been the large construction trucks driving past restaurants and businesses. This traffic would have blown dust into their establishments. But, through the public meetings, the problem will hopefully be avoided.

He said there will be a construction hotline business owners can use to report problems. There may be street sweeping if construction is messy.

Rosvold, who owns Campus Pizza and Pasta, said he thinks the stadium will bring business to the area. He hasn’t made any preparations for the stadium, but he has an outdoor patio in mind.

“Two years is right around the corner and, then again, two years is a long way away,” he said.

Prospect Park resident Steve Banks said he thinks the on-campus stadium is good for the school and possibly for the neighborhood.

He said there’s been construction on his street before, and people complained about dust and noise problems, but this is a transitional problem.

“A little dust from moving dirt around, it’s just not that big of a deal to me,” Banks said.

Swanson said stadium preparations included approval from the Minneapolis Public Works Department when the design was 50 percent complete.

The University then needed layout approval when the plan was 90 percent complete from the City Council, which is what happened at the last council meeting.

This preparation meant “it wasn’t a big surprise” to anyone on the City Council or the stadium’s neighbors, he said.

Swanson said University engineers are working with a private company to get a “ballpark estimate” of how much the roads project will cost.

Then, the University will put the project out to bid and award the project to the lowest offer, he said.

Swanson said the project won’t restrict traffic. During construction, drivers can use the old streets.

He also said construction won’t affect the University buses traveling along these routes.

The road realignment would not likely interfere with the central corridor light rail development going underneath Washington Avenue, Swanson said. The University would like to see the rail line go under University Avenue and run parallel to the transit way above ground.

According to a staff report from the Department of Public Works, “The location of the University of Minnesota’s planned football stadium is in conflict with the alignment of the Central Corridor LRT as proposed in the Central Corridor Draft Environmental Impact Statement.”

The Metropolitan Council, the lead agency for the Central Corridor, knows about the conflict and is aware of alternate alignment suggestions given by the University, the report said.

According to the report, the decision about how to route the proposed light rail will be made later.