Phase one of tunnels almost complete; students weary of construction

Zach Bailey

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Construction workers install the new pedestrian tunnel on Winona Street behind Haake Hall. This is one of two underground tunnels Winona State University will see finished by the 2016-2017 school year. (Photo by Brianna Murphy)

Construction workers install the new pedestrian tunnel on Winona Street behind Haake Hall.
This is one of two underground tunnels Winona State University will see finished by the 2016-2017 school year. (Photo by Brianna Murphy)

Zach Bailey/Winonan

Monday, May 11, 2015 might not hold any important meaning to most people, but to the students and faculty at Winona State University, this date marks the first day of construction began by the Winona State campus to create pedestrian tunnels to alleviate the dangers train tracks can cause.

Winona State, through the help of Kraemer North America Railroad Company, is in the process of creating two underground tunnels that will travel beneath the railroad tracks. One of the underground tunnels will be placed directly behind Haake hall on Winona Street, and the second tunnel is being constructed next to the entrance to Altra Federal Credit Union Stadium off of Main Street.

After months of work, the first stage of construction is almost complete. One of the tunnels is already finished, and the second one has to be buried under the tracks.

A construction worker said they were not even confident  of underground tunnels in beginning the project.

“To be honest, the ideas of tunnels sounded crazy at first,” a construction worker at the site said. “If we would have just built a bridge over the tracks, we would have been done weeks ago. But, the idea of tunnels is nice.”

With just six workers on site at a time, phase one, constructing the tunnels themselves, is expected to be finished in five weeks.

“Train delays are the only thing setting us back,” the worker said. “There have been some days where we’ve had to go through a total of around two hours of just sitting there, because we can’t work while the trains are going by.”

Some students said the noise of the construction is starting to get annoying, and they would rather have the train noise than construction.

Ellyn Barker and Steph Flakne, juniors at Winona State who live and work at the front desk of Kirkland and Haake halls, said they are beginning to become annoyed by the construction that goes on behind the buildings.

“Construction starts every morning around 7 a.m. It’s loud, disruptive and wakes me up every morning,” Flakne said. The women both said the workers may not stay too late into the day, but they are there all day, and always making noise.

“We can’t have our windows open at all. There’s no dust from the construction, but the noise just gets to be too much,” Ellyn Barker said. “The noise is worse than a train going by.”

Both the students said the construction was not bad in the beginning of the year, but as the year progresses it has gotten worse.

Though phase one is almost complete, expected completion of the project is estimated for sometime during the 2016-2017 school year.