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Spanning the gap

Profile image for By Jenna Duncan
By Jenna Duncan

TWU expansion plans could reopen pedestrian bridge

As Texas Woman’s University officials continue talks about expanding the campus on the east side of Bell Avenue, the closed pedestrian bridge is re-entering the planning conversation.

The pedestrian bridge frequently holds banners, but not much else in recent years. The bridge was closed permanently six years ago, after concerns were raised over the concrete’s structural integrity, said Joe Standridge, associate vice president for finance and construction.

“It’s not going to fall down, but it’s not safe for people to walk on the bridge right now,” he said.

While there was no official engineering survey to deem the bridge unsafe, there were problems with concrete cracking, said Amanda Simpson, a spokeswoman for the university. Since the bridge wasn’t used much anyway, university officials decided to gate off the entrances to the walkway.

This type of bridge isn’t inspected by the Texas Department of Transportation since it is a pedestrian walkway, said Bernie Carrasco, of the TxDOT Bridge Division. These walkways are inspected after they are built to verify their height, but after that the department isn’t involved in inspection or maintenance.

The bridge was built in 1962 so students could avoid walking across Bell Avenue, but it was not normally used by students, Simpson said.

Instead, they opted for one of the four designated crosswalks on Bell Avenue for pedestrians.

Because of this, the bridge was shut off and hasn’t been used since.

As the campus looks to expand, there could be changes to the structure in the near future, Standridge said.

“We’re going to have conversations about what the cost is, what the pros and cons would be of rebuilding it, how does it help and hurt the campus,” Standridge said. “I think we need to take a look at it, and it’s an important part of the TWU campus.”

Fixing the bridge is also an option, though Standridge said he could see a new bridge being incorporated into a new student union project if it is built on the east side of Bell.

This could be increasingly important as more students are on campus than ever, with more than 12,000 students on the Denton campus this fall, Standridge said.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.