Nebraska prepares for Memorial Stadium loop upgrade

Nebraska prepares for Memorial Stadium loop upgrade

A project that begins in late December will change traffic flow and parking in the Memorial Loop Roadway that connects Memorial Stadium to Vine Street.
Troy Fedderson | University Communication
A project that begins in late December will change traffic flow and parking in the Memorial Loop Roadway that connects Memorial Stadium to Vine Street.

Nebraska’s iconic mall leading to Memorial Stadium is getting a facelift.

Starting in late December, a renovation to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Memorial Loop Road will upgrade the uneven brick roadway, reconfigure parking with roughly the same number of spaces, increase safety for pedestrians and traffic, and add to the university’s sustainability efforts. The project will be completed by early August 2018.

“This is the first phase in a long-term project that will reinforce the iconic nature of the Memorial Stadium mall,” said Brooke Hay, assistant director of facilities planning and construction. “This is one of City Campus’ historic spaces, having originally served as a greenspace and marching ground. This renovation embraces that history while also modernizing the space and making it safer for traffic and pedestrians.”

The $2.3 million project will change parking and the way traffic flows around the loop, shifting all vehicles to the north, linking east- and west-bound lanes to Vine Street. In the current configuration, traffic flows around the loop, entering westbound at Vine Street, passing the east façade of Memorial Stadium and exiting to the east onto 14th Street.

Conceptual drawing of the Memorial Loop Road upgrade. The project will shift the entire loop road to the north, linking it directly to Vine Streets, while converting the southern portion to green space. The parking lot in the middle currently will remain. Parking will also be available on both sides of the redesigned roadway.

The east bound lane on the south side of the current loop will be converted into a new greenspace/tailgating area. Hay said the space will incorporate specially engineered turf that can accommodate tailgating on Husker home football games. The turf will serve as a test, with the possibility of expansion in the future.

The combination of a planned bioretention greenspace with various hardscape materials will transform the space into the university’s first “green street,” working to filter out pollutants and better control rainwater runoff.

“This redesign is allowing us to take a different approach to better meet stormwater requirements established by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality,” Hay said. “This is really an extension of the university’s ongoing efforts to follow best practices in sustainability.”

The renovation will have the greatest impact on parking in the area — though those impacts will be limited to the construction phase.

Dan Carpenter, director of parking and transit services, said that, when complete, the project is not expected to cause a reduction in the number of parking spaces available in the loop area. However, the 110 Area A (faculty/staff) parking spaces that currently line the stadium loop road will be unavailable during construction.

Carpenter said Parking and Transit Services reduced sales of Area A permits this academic year to reduce impacts caused by shifting more than 100 parking spaces to other campus lots during the renovation. However, faculty and staff who park in Area A spaces on the loop and have concerns can contact the parking office to explore available options.

Additional information about how the renovation will affect loop road parking will be announced to campus prior to the start of construction.

Carpenter said visitor spaces in the loop, primarily for the College of Education and Human Sciences and the University of Nebraska State Museum at Morrill Hall, will not be impacted by the work. Those spaces will move into the F3 reserved faculty/staff parking lot that is currently in the middle of the stadium loop road. The entrance to that reserved lot will shift to the southeast corner of the loop road during construction.

When the project is complete, parking will be available along the redesigned east- and west-bound roadway that links to Vine Street. And, the lot in the middle of the loop will be reconfigured to accommodate a mix of reserved parking, visitor spaces and Area A faculty and staff.

Nebraska ROTC students march on the green space east of Memorial Stadium in for a Chancellor's Review in April 1942. Taken from atop Memorial Stadium, this image includes the Coliseum (left), Bessey Hall (right, bottom) and Morrill Hall (right, top)

Hay said some of the prep work — mostly tree removal and minor pavement installations — will take place this fall. Other important dates include the start of work in late December or early January, which will close the loop road; and completion in August 2018.

The renovation concept also includes a plan to salvage bricks from the current roadway and integrate them into the final design.

Funding for the project is being provided by Nebraska’s Athletic Department.

The university is continuing to develop additional phases in the upgrade to the Memorial Stadium Mall, with the ultimate goal of converting the space into a featured greenspace that will enhance Husker football game day tailgating, other special events and daily use. There is no timeline for future updates. The overall concept fits with the university’s campus and landscape master plans that were approved in 2013.

The Memorial Loop Road, looking southwest toward Memorial Stadium from the corner of 14th and Vine streets.