A combination of buses, cars, bicyclists and pedestrians has snarled traffic on Pleasant Street near Folwell Hall since classes began.
University of Minnesota police have stationed two officers at the traffic circle where Pleasant Street and Pillsbury Drive intersect to untangle the mess.
“It’s definitely a busy, congested intersection with a lot going on at once,” University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said.
With Washington Avenue closed for light-rail construction, buses are being diverted to Pleasant Street, which means more bus traffic and more pedestrians, Miner said.
“When the buses are unloading, there are a lot of pedestrians released at one point that then need to cross streets in various directions,” Miner said.
New bike lanes are also adding to the confusion for motorists, Miner said.
Officers will be at the intersection through the second week of school. One officer directs traffic coming from University Avenue, while another simultaneously directs pedestrians crossing Pleasant Street.
“The major concern is that there are three lanes of traffic going down to one lane, and making that happen while getting all the students safely across,” University police Officer Todd Haugaard said.
There haven’t been any major problems at the intersection, Miner said.
However, a block away, a student was injured Tuesday after a Minneapolis city vehicle sideswiped a University bus as it was unloading passengers, Miner said.
The student was sprayed in the face with broken glass, Miner said, and was treated at the scene by paramedics before being released.
“That was unexpected,” Miner said. “Thankfully, the injuries turned out to be minor.”
Temporary traffic control signals will likely be installed at the intersection to direct the extra bus traffic until Washington Avenue is reopened in about three years.
University police officers will direct traffic in the area until Sept. 16, Miner said, but that may change as the University’s Parking and Transportation Services works to find a permanent solution to the problem.
Spokeswoman Jacqueline Brudlos said PTS is currently looking into many options for the area, including the temporary traffic signal.
If the signal is chosen, Miner said police will stay in the area until it is installed. The signal would be removed after Washington Avenue is reopened to buses in approximately three years, Brudlos said.
“We’re looking at how everything is moving this first week of school,” Brudlos said. “We’re looking at if that traffic signal is going to be able to manage the traffic.”
A cost estimate for the signal has been requested, and Brudlos said a decision will hopefully be made in the next two weeks.
“Unfortunately it’s all up in the air right now,” Brudlos said.
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