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UNT pedestrian bridge set to open Oct. 16

Profile image for By Rachel Mehlhaff / Staff Writer
By Rachel Mehlhaff / Staff Writer

The University of North Texas and the Texas Department of Transportation are planning to have the pedestrian bridge connecting the main campus to Apogee Stadium open for the Oct. 16 football game against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

UNT has two crews paving the connecting sidewalks, said Helen Bailey, director of facilities management and construction at UNT.

“Everyone is working as fast as they can,” Bailey said. “The idea is that we’ll all finish at the same time.”

While UNT’s crews are working on the connecting sidewalks, TxDOT’s construction crew, Massana Construction Inc., is putting the final touches on the bridge.

The main structure of the bridge was put in place at the end of July.

“We are still on schedule,” said Michelle Releford, spokeswoman for TxDOT, but it’s a tight schedule.

The crew is still working on the canopy and the approaches, as well as the electrical work.

At this point, weather could delay it, she said, although there are weather days built in.

Currently, football game attendees use the North Texas Boulevard bridge to cross the interstate from the Fouts Field parking lot to Apogee Stadium.

The pedestrian bridge, which is 20 feet wide, 354 feet long and 17 feet tall, will offer a safer, more direct route to the stadium.

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.

UNT will pay for the sidewalks but that is not included in the money UNT has already paid.

The paving project is costing the university about $130,000, Bailey said.

The university is not doing the fully designed project because of time constraints, Bailey said. UNT was planning to put a “Green Light to Greatness” motif in the concrete, based on the university’s new tagline, which was adopted in February along with a new five-year strategic plan.

But the university will add design features and landscaping at a later date, she said.

“When the bridge opens, there will be an accessible route all the way from the main campus to the football stadium,” Bailey said, adding that it hasn’t been the case even with the North Texas Boulevard bridge.

UNT is planning to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony a few hours before the game, as well as a ceremonial first march across the bridge led by UNT President Lane Rawlins, said Buddy Price, spokesman for the university.

RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is rmehlhaff@dentonrc.com .