Campus access easier as LRT project proceeds

LRT security
Construction was under way at the Central Corridor light rail line's West Bank station on Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, near the University of Minnesota.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Light rail planners say students heading back to class at the University of Minnesota this week should be able to get around campus despite ongoing construction on the Central Corridor project.

For much of the summer, pedestrians had to zizgag along detoured routes around the East Bank and Stadium Village.

But Dan Soler of the Central Corridor project office says crews made sure to finish sidewalks along Washington Avenue from Coffman Union to Huron Street in time for the start of the fall semester.

"There's obviously still a lot of construction going on," Soler said, "but the big focus, as people come back to campus, has been getting the sidewalks and pedestrian ways all open."

Planners are transforming four blocks into a car-free zone with a walking path, landscaping and a designated bike lane. The section was permanently closed to vehicle traffic last year.

At least one block of the mall is already taking shape.

"I think it's going very well," Soler said. "At least on the more eastern side, the block between Harvard and Walnut, pavers are going in, some of the final treatments are going in, the curb is in place, so that's starting to look like in its final condition."

Over the summer, workers have also been busy on campus building utilities, road, tracks and stations. This fall, they will build out the track bed and install the rail.

The overall project is nearly 70 percent complete, and construction should wrap up by the end of the year.

Trains connecting St. Paul to Minneapolis should start service by 2014.