:: Planning continues for pedestrian tunnel
Development of a new pedestrian tunnel under the railroad tracks between Lebanon Avenue and West Trollinger Avenue continues this fall, with the tunnel expected to open spring 2009 according to Neil Bromilow, the Director of Construction Management.
After the death of an Elon student at the railroad tracks last spring, new interest in a pedestrian tunnel has emerged, though the tragedy did not affect the university’s existing plans to build a tunnel, Bromilow said. Architects are in the designing process of the tunnel while the project awaits funding approval from the university.
The tunnel will be located behind Hook, Brannock and Barney residence halls. The project will cost an estimated $1 million, a figure to be shared by the university and Norfolk Southern Railway Company.
Lebanon Avenue may be converted to a one-way street during construction, said Bromilow.
Reactions from the student body have been mixed.
“The project is good in theory, but I don’t think it’s going to be very effective,” said junior Maura McGrath. “People won’t walk the entire length of the tracks just to use the tunnel.”
To keep people from continuing to walk over the tracks, the state will put up a fence. The fence will run the length of the tracks adjacent to Trollinger and Lebanon.
Some students who walk to South Campus through main campus on a daily basis especially support the school’s new project.
“I feel a little bit scared when I cross the tracks, and since the trains do go through there so fast there are safety issues,” said senior Virginia Zint.
According to Norfolk Southern, the speeds of the trains through the Triad increased in the past four years. Previously, passenger trains were not allowed to go above 59 mph, but now they are allowed to operate as fast as 79 mph in accordance with the North Carolina Transportation Department and state law.
“I’m glad the university is concerned about our safety rather than the cost of such a project,” said senior Colleen Cooper.
While construction is not expected to start for a few more months, there will be some noticeable changes when building begins. Trains will still operate, but at slower speeds through the Elon community.
Reporter: Nate Acosta and Nancy Whitman - 09/19/07