While few students would argue that getting around the University has ever been easy, the difficulties of traveling between North Campus and Central Campus will become more pronounced at the end of this month.

Shabina Khatri
Snow falls on train tracks running under the Broadway Street Bridge yesterday, with the University Hospital in the background. Traffic delays are expected after Feb. 28, when the city will close the bridge for reconstruction.

Starting Feb. 28, the city of Ann Arbor will close part of the Broadway Street Bridge for reconstruction.

Since the bridge provides one of only a few means to cross the Huron River, the city expects traffic that once occupied the bridge to spill onto other routes, delaying drivers who commute between campuses on other roads.

Several University institutions are preparing for the inconveniences of the new construction. Betsy Lamb, a supervisor for Transit Services, said she anticipates that added traffic on bus routes may slow services. “People should expect the ride to be a little longer and not be shocked when they’re standing in line for a little while,” she said. “The first couple of weeks are going to be really ugly.”

Since the University Hospital is located on one side of the Broadway Street Bridge, hospital officials have made several initiatives to help patients maintain the same level of access to the medical center. University Health System spokeswoman Sam Jessie said the hospital has informed its staff and created construction indicators to ease the transition.

“We’re trying to avoid as much confusion as possible,” she said.

Despite the temporary inconvenience, Jessie said the results of the construction should benefit the expediency of the hospital.

“The city needs this more than we do, but the added lanes … will make a much smoother ride for patients,” she said.

The city, in conjunction with the Walter Toebe Construction Co., plans to demolish the existing bridge and replace it with two, four lane structures with 11-foot wide sidewalks on both sides.

Engineer Glenn Bukoski said the old earth-arch structure will be replaced with a modern steel beam structure, requiring fewer hands for labor and providing greater efficiency in construction. He added that the new bridge will be replaced with a modern steel beam structure, providing greater efficiency in construction. He added that the new bridge will feature several aesthetic improvements such as increased pedestrian lighting. Bukoski is the resident engineer for Parsons Brinckerhoff Michigan, a company the city will consult on the project.

Project manager Dave Wilson said construction on the south half of the bridge will continue until October. Reconstruction of the north half will follow and last until October 2004.

While traffic headed toward North Campus will be prohibited for the entire duration of the construction, traffic going south will remain on the free half of the bridge, he said. Wilson added that pedestrian access will also continue for the duration of the construction.

Despite the added traffic, many students do not believe bridge construction will inconvenience their travels between North and Central campus. “Unless there’s deadlock going up to North Campus, I don’t think it’s going to affect me at all,” Engineering sophomore Michael Reid said.

But LSA sophomore Cumi Ikeda, who takes the bus every day from North Campus to Central Campus, said she wonders if the bridge expansion justifies the delays in the bus system. “I’m not sure if it would be worth it,” she said. “It would put more of a squeeze on the time I have to get there.”

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