Tuesday, October 16, 2012
UNT’s $2.5 million bridge to Apogee Stadium makes long-awaited, temporary debut
It will reduce game day traffic and provide a safe pedestrian route to the stadium.
DENTON The pedestrian bridge connecting UNT’s main campus and Apogee Stadium will make its temporary debut with a dedication ceremony at 5 o’clock Tuesday, just in time for Tuesday night's Mean Green football game against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which is being televised on ESPN2.
Construction of the $2.5 million project – UNT supplied $1 million and the state covered the rest with toll road revenue from throughout Denton County – began February 29, and the bridge was originally scheduled to open on September 8.
However, moving a waterline during the initial stages of construction pushed back the project’s deadline, said Michelle Releford, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Transportation.
“Because the city didn’t want to cut the water during the relocation of the waterline for the surrounding neighborhood, it took a month or two,” Releford said. “But the construction of the bridge still followed its six-month deadline.”
She said the bridge still requires a few touch-ups and will close again after today’s game. Workers still need to smooth out concrete, check rail levels, paint, and remove debris. No new features will be added.
The remaining work is expected to be finished by mid-November, and the bridge will again temporarily reopen for the UNT homecoming game November 3, Releford said.
“The bridge is perfectly safe,” she said. “The workers just don’t want students to walk through the work zone during the touch-ups and get hurt.”
Releford said TxDOT won’t know whether the delayed opening will add to the cost of the bridge until several months after its completion. Price adjustments occur throughout projects such as this because workers might require new material in the middle of construction, she said.
Releford described the construction process as a “success story.”
“From the traffic and construction concern to cooperation with the Denton Police Department, the entire process has been really smooth,” Releford said.
The 350-foot-long, 20-foot-wide, 17-foot-tall bridge will connect the parking lot at Fouts Field to Eagle Point, home to Apogee Stadium, the Mean Green Village, and Victory Hall.
The bridge is expected to relieve game day traffic and provide a safe, easy route for fans flocking to Apogee Stadium.
Helen Bailey, director of Facilities Management and Construction, said thousands of people are expected to use the bridge on game days.
UNT will assume maintenance responsibility for the bridge after its completion. However, TxDOT will still inspect the bridge every other year.
Bailey said UNT plans to add features such as landscaping, lighting, and new designs on both sides of the bridge.
Today’s game will be the first to take place with the bridge open.
Cpl. John DeLong, community relations officer for the UNT Police Department, said about 40 to 70 officers were assigned to work at today’s game and direct traffic.
“[The bridge] doesn’t add any burden to our work,” DeLong said. “They built it to help us relieve that burden.”
Pre-marketing freshman Brian Giles said he hoped the bridge would help clear up game day traffic congestion, especially by North Texas Boulevard and Victory Hall.
“It’s exciting because it’ll shorten the walk length from Fouts to Apogee,” Giles said.
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