The Texas Department of Transportation will close lanes of Interstate 35E in both directions Friday night to accommodate the construction of the University of North Texas’ new pedestrian bridge.
The interstate lanes will be closed from 10 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Saturday, TxDOT spokeswoman Michelle Releford said.
Motorists will be diverted to the frontage roads in both directions.
She encouraged motorists to plan ahead for alternate routes to deal with an anticipated traffic backup.
The northbound and southbound frontage roads will be closed from 4 p.m. Saturday to 6 a.m. Sunday between North Texas Boulevard and Bonnie Brae Street, Releford said, but the main lanes of the highway will stay open.
Helen Bailey, director of facilities management and construction at UNT, said the pedestrian bridge is being constructed to connect UNT’s main campus, which is on the north side of Interstate 35, to Eagle Point, which houses UNT’s athletic complex and includes Mean Green Village, Apogee Stadium and Victory Hall residence hall.
The goal of the pedestrian bridge is to keep pedestrian traffic off the North Texas Boulevard bridge, Bailey said.
Releford said the $2.5 million project, which began in February, is on track to finish by the end of September.
“Right now there is no indication they are behind for weather or anything like that,” she said.
While weather days are built into the schedule, Releford said, last-minute weather problems can sometimes delay projects in their final days.UNT has donated the right of way to the land on either side of the highway.
Releford said TxDOT officials took into account the planned expansion of Interstate 35E when planning the project and that the bridge is designed to accommodate the widening of the interstate highway.
The university worked with HDR Engineering on the design of the bridge to incorporate campus motifs, Bailey said, such as eagle head symbols as well as designing the roof structure in an inverted “V” shape to mimic the football stadium design.
UNT also worked with the architect to ensure that the bridge was wide enough to accommodate the number of people who would cross it for the football games, she said.
“It’s 20 feet wide for that reason,” Bailey said.
The exact date of completion is unknown, she said, but the goal is to have it open in time for the first football game of the coming season.
“Our ideal situation would be to get it done before school, but that isn’t going to happen,” Releford said. “But the first football game, that is the goal we’re shooting for.”
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