The University of Minnesota is in talks with Minneapolis officials to reconstruct Eighth Street Southeast — with the University covering part of the cost.
University officials decided to begin the project after the school’s baseball team began playing at the newly reconstructed Siebert Field off Eighth Street this spring. Officials don’t yet have an estimate for the project’s cost.
Parking and Transportation Services would fund the project, said Sandy Cullen, University transportation systems design manager.
If the Minneapolis City Council approves the redevelopment, it won’t be the first time the University has paid for city reconstruction. Last year, the University spent more than $550,000 to help redo sections of Talmage and Riverside avenues near University property.
Right now, Cullen said, the University is working with the city to start designing the new road, which the city has to sign off on before the two parties can decide how much the University will spend.
“We hope to have [the design] set this year,” she said.
At this stage, it’s still unclear exactly how far along Eighth Street the new construction would go, said Bob Carlson, engineer for the city’s public works department. But he said it will definitely stretch past the three housing complexes on the north side of the street.
The street may be closed a few times, like when new asphalt needs time to cool.
“We would try to keep access open for the majority of the time,” Carlson said. “It isn’t the intent just to say, ‘OK, we’re starting up, you people go away and don’t drive on this thing until we’re all done.’”
Eighth Street, which tapers off into a dirt road past University recreational fields, has drawn complaints from nearby property owners and residents.
“I’ve been waiting for [the development] to get done for eight years,” said Greg Jansma, building manager for Northstar at Siebert Field apartments, which has two buildings on the road.
A number of Jansma’s residents have complained about the street.
“[When] we go into a rainy stretch like we have recently, those big holes literally never dry up,” he said. “And even when they do, they’re still dealing with the rough road.”
Jansma said he’s hopeful the University’s contribution will swiftly move the project along.
Art Institutes International Minnesota sophomore Eva Bifulk said she wasn’t worried about the road when she moved into Northstar last summer — she chalked up the poor conditions, which she assumed were temporary, to the Siebert construction.
When the road never got fixed, Bifulk said she considered writing a letter to the city about it.
University alumnus Charlie Vollhaber lived in a Northstar building until May. He said Eighth Street lead to a lot of problems with parking and accessibility, because it was “filled with potholes.”
“It was just ridiculous.”