Pedestrian tunnels enter final stages of construction


Nikko Aries

The pedestrian tunnels are in their final stages of construction. Lisa Pearson, the arboretum director and interim director of facilities planning, hopes the tunnels will be finished before the winter begins.

Lauren Saner, Copy Editor

After more than 10 years of planning, the pedestrian tunnels at Winona State University are finally in the last stages of construction.

Scott Ellinghuysen, the vice president of finance and administration and the chief financial officer (CFO), said that the project of the pedestrian tunnels has been in the works for almost 15 years.

In 2005, Winona State received federal funding to build the new pedestrian tunnels. This funding required an 80-20 match between the federal government and the university. To begin planning and building, Winona State had to have the money to pay for 20 percent of the tunnels, while the federal government covered the leftover 80 percent.

In 2007, the university began to purchase land and houses that were essential in the building of these tunnels, which is when the planning for construction began.

However, the plans for the new tunnels began earlier when there was a discussion for the city of Winona to build a tunnel on Huff Street, but it was for cars rather than pedestrians. There are no passes for cars or pedestrians in Winona, and Winona State wanted to ensure safety for those who were crossing the train tracks from campus to other parts of the city.

“Our priority is to get students, employees, staff and other members of the city to get across the tracks safely,” Ellinghuysen said.

There are two tunnels that connect campus to the other side of the railroad tracks. One is between Haake and Kirkland residence halls and the other is near Maxwell Field, to ensure fans can get to sporting events safely.

While the structures of the tunnels are complete, there are still several items for the tunnels that need to be finished to open them to the public.

Lisa Pearson, the arboretum director and interim director of facilities planning and construction, stated that waterproofing of the tunnels, final tunnel interior wall painting, concrete walking surface, lighting installation within the tunnels, installation of handrails and security camera installation along ramps and tunnels need to be finished before allowing students to use them.

“We hope to complete all of these [items above] this fall, so the ramps and tunnels can be open before winter,” Pearson said.

Once opened, the tunnels will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will be monitored by security. Not only will there be security cameras in the tunnels, but the tunnels will be checked daily by security guards while on their campus rounds to ensure safety within the tunnels.

The pedestrian tunnels still have work that needs to be done before they can be opened to the public, but those who have been working on this project hope to have it finished within the upcoming months.