City streets to enter change

With a little over a month before the first street and ramp closures, the team planning the Marquette Interchange reconstruction held a public information session in the Alumni Memorial Union Tuesday.

The seven-hour event allowed people to ask questions about closures, parking and the final product. The middle of Ballroom D was consumed by a model of what the interchange will look like in 2008— its projected completion date.

As of April 1, the North 16th Street Bridge will be closed between West Clybourn Street on the north and West Emmber Lane on the south for the beginning of its reconstruction, according to Joyce Harms, public involvement manager for the project.

Also on April 1, West Tory Hill will close between North 10th and 11th streets to build the Tory Hill Bridge, which will support a reconstructed northbound Interchange 43 ramp.

Following the interchange commencement ceremony on May 16, West Clybourn Street will close from North 16th to North 9th streets to move utility lines. The closure also will accommodate the re-alignment of West Clybourn Street and West Tory Hill, pushing Clybourn slightly north, she said.

To maintain access to Lot J, the university-owned parking lot behind Gesu Church and Johnston and O'Hara halls, North 11th Street will be converted to a two-way street with a new traffic light at North 11th Street and West Wisconsin Avenue, she said. Only the portion of North 11th Street south of West Wisconsin Avenue will be two-way.

All of this work is expected to wrap up by Dec. 7, she said.

"Work has been going on for well over a year and a half looking at how to carefully relocate utilities," located under Clybourn, she said. "There are 23 different utility lines, conduits, pipes, (etc.) running within that very compact area."

She said representatives from the different utilities have been meeting regularly to determine the most effective places to move lines without running into future construction or disrupting service.

"All of these players have to be ready to act within this eight month construction process," she said.

Aside from the obvious problem of street and bridge closures, Marquette students will lose many parking spots during the construction. Parking along West Clybourn Street will be inaccessible, West St. Paul Avenue will lose 81 spots as various small construction-related projects eat up space and Lot M — which has approximately 700 spots — will disappear.

Marquette will open a new parking structure with approximately 1,100 spots on North 13th and West Wells streets in mid-July, according to Jay Sobota, manager of parking services. The construction "definitely forced our hand in coming up with parking alternatives," he said.

Lot M is the only lot Marquette will lose, but there are no plans of getting it back after the construction is finished, Sobota said. The lot is owned by the county and leased to Marquette.

He also said fees for parking will most likely rise next year.

"In the next academic year there will be an increase in parking rates, but they have not been approved yet," Sobota said. The increase will be "across the board," applying to students and employees.

The construction will also close North 13th Street to vehicular traffic from West Clybourn Street down to the freeway; however, the street will be open to pedestrian traffic. These closures will make access to Valley Fields difficult, but, according to Todd Vicker, executive director of Auxiliary Services, the university will likely provide a shuttle for students.

"We hope to find out this week" if the state will "help us fund the shuttle services," he said. The shuttle would run April 1 until Dec. 7 during the afternoon and evening and during any sporting events, and depart from the east side of the AMU.