Friday, August 31, 2012
UNT pedestrian bridge to Apogee Stadium construction delayed
TxDOT and delays go together like peanut butter and jelly.
The bridge, originally scheduled to open September 8, will likely still be under construction during UNT football’s two home games in September, said Helen Bailey, director of facilities management and construction.
“We do not have a definitive opening date at this time,” Bailey said.
The $2.5 million project, which straddles the highway between North Texas Boulevard and Bonnie Brae Street, began February 29.
The university paid $1 million of the bill and donated the adjacent land to the state – the Texas Department of Transportation covered the rest through toll revenue from throughout the region.
TxDOT is responsible for the construction of the bridge itself. UNT is responsible for installing lighting and sidewalks, which must be completed before the bridge can officially open to the public.
TxDOT shut down Interstate 35E overnight to install the main structure in July but still has to build railings and complete additional welding, Bailey said.
“Once TxDOT finishes the bridge, we have to build sidewalks to connect it,” she said. “We plan to start immediately after the bridge is completed, which will hopefully be in the latter half of September.”
The finished bridge will span 354 feet across the interstate and will provide UNT football fans with a safer and quicker alternative to crossing via North Texas Boulevard or Bonnie Brae Street.
It will also relieve some of the notorious game day congestion that occurs on those streets during Mean Green football, Bailey said.
Thousands of people are expected to use the bridge on game days.
“We’re anticipating two kinds of uses for the bridge: daily use and game days,” Bailey said. “Daily use will probably not exceed a couple hundred, but we could see several thousand people crossing it on game days.”
Some students expressed dissatisfaction with the bridge’s delayed opening.
“I think there could be a more efficient way of building the bridge,” psychology senior Alex Schluter said. “This makes all involved in its construction appear to have a lack of foresight and abundant laziness.”
The original scheduled opening date of September 8 would have coincided with UNT’s first home game against Texas Southern, but football fans will have to continue using old crossing routes for now.
“I think that building the pedestrian bridge was a good idea,” Schluter said, but expressed concern that the delayed opening would decrease student attendance at home games.
UNT and TxDOT are pushing ahead to complete the bridge and sidewalks as soon as possible, ideally in time for the Oct. 16 football game against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which will be nationally broadcast on ESPN2.
“The construction of the bridge is nearing completion,” Bailey said. “But construction takes time. We will have it operating as soon as we can.”
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