Road near Siebert Field could get a facelift

University officials approached the city about repaving and lighting of Eighth Street Southeast.

by Haley Madderom

Walk down Eighth Street Southeast toward its dead end near Siebert Field and the road becomes riddled with potholes and loose gravel.

Two separate projects aimed at repaving and lighting the road near the University of Minnesota are moving forward after a public hearing Tuesday in a City Council committee. The projects are set to be underway early next year, pending the full council’s approval.

After construction on Siebert Field wrapped up in 2013, some city and school officials say increased traffic wore the road down.

As part of the Eighth Street Southeast reconstruction and street lighting projects, the road would be capped by a new cul-de-sac and see revamped pavements, boulevards and lighting.

The first block of the road’s final stretch was paved in 1973. The rest of the street, which extends past the Student Recreational Sports Dome, is just dirt.

The University owns a majority of the property, so it would be pitching in about $600,000 of the combined projects’ nearly $760,000 price tag.

In fact, it was University officials who approached the city’s public works department in 2013 with the idea of reconstructing the road.

“Eighth Street is in rough shape and has been for some time. The road is falling apart.” University Parking and Transportation Services spokeswoman Jacqueline Brudlos said in an email statement.

The area sees a lot of student traffic, she said, and the school uses it for events.

Taylor Pawelka, a strategic communication senior who lives a couple of blocks away from the site, said she walks by Eighth Street Southeast frequently on her walk home.

“I think it’s a good idea — there are a lot of potholes around the city that need to be fixed,” she said. “And anything the city can do to improve visibility would be a positive thing.”

Greg Jansma, building manager of the Northstar apartments that occupy a strip of Eighth Street Southeast, said he’s anxious to see the improvements.

“[The project] will get us to a level of service that I expected years ago,” he said. “But I think it’s just a baseline public service.”

Jansma said he hopes the University’s involvement will push the city to promptly restore the street. He said he has felt left out of dialogues about the project and that he wasn’t kept up-to-date by city staff.

Ward 2 City Councilman Cam Gordon, who represents the University and surrounding neighborhoods, said he fully supports the reconstruction efforts and thinks residents near the stretch would benefit from “modern” roads, among other upgrades.

“I think it’s fully appropriate, and I’m glad to see it coming forward,” he said.