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Goshen College students walk away from one of the college's crossings on campus 1/31/2012. The rail road tracks that cut the campus in two will be less of an obstacle after this summer when a pedestrian tunnel is installed. (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen)

A drawing of the Goshen College railroad underpass.

Goshen College students cross the rail road tracks 1/31/2012. The rail road tracks that cut the campus in two will be less of an obstacle after this summer when a pedestrian tunnel is installed. (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen)
GC's underpass to come this summer

Posted on Jan. 31, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.

Scroll down to see a video rendering of the pedestrian tunnel.

GOSHEN — Goshen College students won't be able to blame trains for being late to class after the college gets a pedestrian underpass this summer.

Plans are set for a tunnel to go under the train tracks that divide the campus. The underpass will go under a crossing west of the college's dorms and east of the college's library and Umble Center. Stairs and a wheelchair lift on either side of the train tracks will be connected by a level corridor under the tracks.

A major part of the construction will happen July 4, when trains will not travel that track, though there's plenty to do before and after.

Mary Cripe, civil city engineer, said that from midnight to 2 a.m. on July 4, Norfolk Southern will cut and lift the tracks where the underpass will be, hauling the tracks away to provide more room for construction. They'll put the tracks back in place the following night, between 10 p.m. July 4 and midnight July 5. Between those times, Northern Indiana Construction will dig the hole for the underpass, lower in precast structures to form the corridor and fill in the soil around it.

Cripe said that the construction company will be fined $5,000 for every hour beyond what's scheduled.

“Pray for sunshine — for a few days before it too,” Cripe said.

Cripe said that there's lots of work to do before July 4, including modifying utilities near where the underpass will be and approving all the plans for the corridor structure. The construction of the stairs down to the walkway and some other work can be done after July 4, Cripe said, so the project won't be finished that day.

Jim Histand, vice president of finance at Goshen College, said that the total cost of the project, including construction, engineering and other costs, will likely be just under $2 million.

Northern Indiana Construction was awarded the bid to construct the underpass at a little more than $1.6 million, Cripe said. That total is covered by a grant through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program, distributed by the Michiana Area Council of Government (MACOG).

Goshen College is paying the remainder of costs, including engineering and other planning costs.

Glenn Gilbert, Goshen College's utilities manager, was on the planning committee for the pedestrian tunnel and used renderings of the tunnel to create a YouTube video of what the tunnel will look like.

“It's not exactly how it will be, but it's pretty close,” Gilbert said.

The college has been planning the underpass for between four and five years, Histand said, largely because of safety issues. When trains are not across the tracks, people will be able to cross over the tracks as they do now. The college is also closing a crossing just north of the new underpass.

The underpass was supposed to go in July 4 last year, but Histand said it was delayed because some issues needed to be worked out between Norfolk Southern and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT).