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Construction on Shepherd University pedestrian underpass delayed

Design changes and need for more blasting than anticipated hindered progress

June 21, 2012|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • Work progresses Thursday for a new pedestrian underpass beneath Duke Street in Shepherdstown, W.Va.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — Construction on a pedestrian underpass linking Shepherd University’s East and West campuses began in April and was supposed to be completed before the start of the 2012-13 school year in August.

Now, the latest date when students can begin walking through the underpass is mid-October, with completion of the overall project expected by the end of November, said Valerie Owens, director of university communications.

The traffic detour around the underpass construction site on North Duke Street and West Campus Drive will open July 1, Owens said.

Traffic will get to Shepherd Grade Road or back onto North Duke Street on a newly constructed bypass road. Traffic heading north over the Potomac River bridge will return to North Duke Street through the Bavarian Inn property. Southbound traffic coming off the bridge will reach Shepherd Grade Road or downtown Shepherdstown over the same route.

Shelli Dronsfield, assistant to university President Suzanne Shipley, said a delay occurred in the awarding of the construction contract to C.W. Hetzer Inc. of Hagerstown because of design changes required by the West Virginia Division of Highways. Many of the utilities scheduled to be moved were not in the underground locations that were listed on maps.

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The need for more blasting than initially was anticipated caused further delays, Dronsfield said.

“There was significant rock at the Bavarian,” she said.

University officials delayed construction until a special meeting was held so town residents could be made aware of the blasting that was to come.

The weather also slowed things down, Dronsfield said. The unusually heavy spring rains and this week’s heat wave slowed progress. The oppressive heat is forcing the workers to quit earlier in the day, she said.

The project’s original cost estimate was more than $4 million. Even with costly redesign requirements by the highway division, unexpected blasting and other issues, the project will come in under its $5.65 million budget, Dronsfield said.

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