Contractors begin work on new parking ramp
Construction work continues on the Anderson Parking Facility near the southwest corner of Cretin and Grand avenues on the south campus.
Crews from Ryan Companies, the architect and contractor for the 725-car ramp, began work May 19 on the site and started excavation May 23. Excavation will continue until June 14, after which footings will be poured and a tower crane will be erected.
Cretin was closed between Grand and Goodrich for parts of Thursday and Friday to allow the city and Ryan to make sanitary sewer connections for the project. Storm sewer connections will be made this summer but will not require any Cretin lane closings.
Xcel Energy expects to move power poles on the west side of Cretin this week, and Ryan will widen Cretin south of Grand at that time. Ryan will widen the east side of Cretin north of Grand in mid-June, after which the city will install new traffic lights at Cretin and Grand.
Ryan does not expect the June construction work to have a significant impact on Cretin traffic. “Our goal is to always have at least one lane of traffic open in each direction at all times,” said Mark Welch, senior project manager at Ryan.
The entrance to the south campus at Cretin and Grand will remained closed until late August, and the Cretin entrance and exit north of the softball field has been eliminated. Motorists and bicyclists should enter and leave the south campus from the Summit Avenue service drive west of Loras Hall. Lots N, T, U and a portion of Lot O will remain closed during most of construction.
The ramp will take about nine months to complete, depending on weather conditions. St. Thomas has not decided when it will open the ramp, but expects that to be during the spring semester. Permit and guest fees for the ramp have not been determined.
The Cretin-Grand intersection work will improve traffic flow through the following steps:
- Two turn lanes on Cretin at Grand – a northbound left-hand turn lane into the south campus and a southbound left-hand turn lane onto eastbound Grand. The city will not use left-hand turn arrows initially but will add them later if necessary.
- Two northbound lanes on Cretin between Lincoln and Summit. This will be accomplished by prohibiting parking at all times on the east side of Cretin between Lincoln and Grand and removing about three feet of boulevard between Grand and the alley north of Grand.
- Three southbound lanes on Cretin as drivers approach Grand. The left lane, as noted above, will be an exclusive left-hand turn lane onto eastbound Grand. The middle lane will be a through lane. The right lane will double as a through lane and a right-hand turn lane into the campus.
- A partial second southbound Cretin lane south of Grand. Motorists continuing south on Cretin initially will be in one of two lanes, which will merge into one lane before Lincoln.
Ryan expects 20-40 employees on the construction site this month, with activity increasing to 50-70 employees from July through November and declining to 20-40 in December and January. Crew members will park in Lot T north of McCarthy Gymnasium and Lot O southwest of McCarthy until November, when they will park in the lower level of the ramp.
St. Thomas will lose about 150 surface parking spaces in Lots N and U because they are within the ramp construction footprint or will be used as part of the Ryan staging area. In addition, Ryan employees will use 20-70 spaces in Lots O and T until November.
The lost spaces are not expected to present a problem during the summer because ample parking is available elsewhere on campus. St. Thomas believes it will have sufficient parking on the south and main campuses during fall semester to handle spaces lost to construction.
The ramp is named for Lee and Penny Anderson, who have made a $60 million gift to the university for construction of a new student center and the ramp and the improvements to athletic and recreational facilities. Lee Anderson is on the St. Thomas Board of Trustees.