The pedestrian bridge connecting the University of North Texas’ main campus to Apogee Stadium will not be open for at least the first two home games in September.
And neither UNT nor the Texas Department of Transportation, which is working on the project, knows the exact date of when the bridge will be ready.
“We cannot announce a date at this time,” said Helen Bailey, director of facilities management and construction at UNT.
TxDOT spokeswoman Michelle Releford said the agency’s goal is to have the bridge completed in time for the Oct. 16 football game against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
It’s going to be a tight deadline, Releford said.
TxDOT put the main structure in place at the end of July, when Interstate 35E was shut down overnight. There is still welding to be completed, and the construction crew has to finish up the railings.
“There’s a lot of concrete work,” Releford said.
Before the bridge can officially open, UNT has to install the connecting sidewalks.
“The paving needs to be ready before we open the bridge at all,” Bailey said.
Construction on the $2.5 million project began in February. UNT paid $1 million of that, as well as donating the right of way to the land on either side of the interstate. The rest of the project was paid for by regional toll revenue.
The sidewalks that will be added will be paid for by the university, Bailey said.
The sidewalks will be handicapped-accessible and will include lighting.
In the concrete will be a “Green Light to Greatness” motif, based on UNT’s new tagline, which the university adopted in February when it released its new five-year strategic plan.
“We’re making a showcase pathway for the new bridge,” Bailey said.
The sidewalks to the bridge will also lead to the stadium’s east side and to the north entrance, she said.
Most game attendees must park at the Fouts Field parking lot, across the interstate from Apogee Stadium.
Rick Villarreal, UNT athletic director, said the university had a plan in case the bridge was not ready for the first game. Attendees will walk over the North Texas Boulevard bridge, which they used last year.
“We appreciate the patience of fans, students and university community during this process,” Villarreal said. “We look forward to the day the bridge is our regular access.”
Staff writer Brett Vito contributed to this report.
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is email@example.com .