Main entrance to RFC to be closed, detour begins July 6
A new road the City of Morris is building to allow access to the Regional Fitness Center during construction on East 2nd Street will be made permanent to help alleviate traffic and parking problems during events at Big Cat Stadium and the University of Minnesota, Morris' PE Center.
The RFC's main entrance from East 2nd Street will be closed on July 6, said Jay Fier, the city's engineer coordinating the projects.
Here's how traffic will be detoured to the RFC:
South Street, which runs by Stevens Community Medical Center, extends across Columbia Avenue. The extension is a road used by Morris Area School District buses to get to the rear doors of the Morris Area Elementary School.
Before the city water tower, a 320-foot road is being built that will allow drivers to turn left and continue into the parking lot next to Big Cat Stadium, the RFC and PE Center. See the attached map for a visual display of the detour.
Once East 2nd Street re-opens, the 320-foot road will remain to help alleviate problems with bus parking and vehicle traffic near the stadium and PE Center during events. However, the road won't be open for use at all times; a gate will be installed to close the road when events are not scheduled, Fier said.
In the past, team and fan buses parked along East 2nd Street during games and events, which combined with pedestrian and vehicle traffic to clog areas around the RFC and PE Center. And after events, exiting traffic had only one way out, Fier said.
"It's been an unsafe situation (along East 2nd Street) for a long, long time," Fier said. "This way, we can get all the bus traffic off the street and we won't have the bottleneck we have on East 2nd. It's win-win."
Construction crews began sewer, water and road work on East 2nd Street last week. The $1.6 million project, which extends from the city's water treatment facility to Atlantic Avenue, began about five weeks behind the original schedule.
The plan was to have work begin immediately after UMM's school year concluded in mid-May so that work from the treatment plant to College Avenue was finished when fall classes begin in late August.
Because of the delayed start, Fier said the on-campus work will be done in two phases instead of three: Phase 1 involves work from the treatment plant to the RFC entrance, and Phase 2 involves work from the RFC to College Avenue.
Crews are nearing completion of underground work from the treatment plant to the RFC, and while road resurfacing work begins on that segment, underground work will continue from the RFC to College. Roadway crews will work on 300-foot segments at a time, and curb and gutter will then be installed, Fier said.
The on-campus work is still on schedule to be completed by Aug. 22.
"It's going to make everything a little more intense," Fier said.
The city is working on how best to approach the remaining work from College Avenue to Atlantic Avenue, Fier said, but that the entire project still is expected to be completed in late October.