The detour through the Bavarian Inn was closed and traffic was resumed Wednesday from Shepherd Grade Road to the stop sign on W.Va. 480 (North Duke Street) for the first time since last spring when construction began on an underpass linking Shepherd University’s East and West campuses.
Students will begin using the underpass when they return to classes after the Christmas break in January, Dan Yanna, the university’s director of facilities management, said Wednesday.
Workers are finishing the concrete walkway and steps leading out of the tunnel onto the west campus. The repaving of West Campus Drive was completed Wednesday.
Students crossing between the campuses will continue to use West High Street until classes resume in January. Yanna urged caution when walking or driving in and around any ongoing construction. He advised drivers to continue to get to the West Campus on University Drive until construction is completed.
The underpass is 10-feet high, 30-feet wide and 60-feet long, Yanna said. It’s being painted with graffiti-proof paint. Lighting is being installed in the tunnel that will be bright enough in which to read a newspaper, Yanna said.
Graffiti-proof paint also will cover the walls on W.Va. 480 on both sides of the underpass. Iron railings are being installed on top of the walls.
A crew from Hagerstown is rebuilding the historic stone wall that borders Shepherd Grade Road from Popodican, the university president’s residence, to its intersection with W.Va. 480. Much of the wall had to be removed during construction.
Landscaping will begin in the spring when the weather breaks, Yanna said.
University officials had predicted that work would start on the underpass in May when classes ended for the summer break and would be finished in time for the start of this school year in August.
Yanna said the prediction was “unreasonable. There was more physical work than could be done in three months.”
Other factors in the delay was the need to break and remove a lot more rock on the site than was anticipated. “We had a lot of rock,” he said.
Also, changes on the road over the underpass ordered by the West Virginia Division of Highways added significantly to the project, Yanna said. Weather conditions also contributed to work stoppages.
All that together — the rock, DOH changes and weather conditions — added about $1 million to the cost of the underpass.
Originally estimated to cost $4.5 million, it will come closer to $5.5 million to $5.6 million, Yanna said.
The cost is justified to protect the safety of students and pedestrians from having to cross between the campuses over a dangerous, poorly lighted crosswalk, university officials have said. Students were injured in pedestrian-vehicle accidents on two occasions in recent years.
“It will all be worth it when it’s done,” Yanna said. “It will be safer and a lot more convenient for everyone.”