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10-foot high pedestrian tunnel built under bypass
Construction workers make progress on a tunnel underneath the U.S. 301 Bypass Wednesday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff
    Motorists driving by the Statesboro Crossing retail development on the new section of the bypass may not realize they are passing over a 10-foot high pedestrian tunnel — big enough to drive an ambulance through.
    The pedestrian access tunnel, located just south of Franklin Toyota, is part of a future transportation enhancement project that will run from Statesboro to Brooklet along the old S & S railroad bed. Essentially a bike trail, the enhancement should eventually tie in with the Blind Willie McTell trail running through downtown. Details are limited at this time since the project is in its very preliminary stages.
    According to Georgia Department of Transportation Area Engineer C.R. Jackson, building the pedestrian tunnel now, while they're working on the bypass, is a far more cost-effective option.
    "The tunnel is being done concurrently with the other activities in the project so it's not adding anything to the overall length of the project," said Jackson. "It was logically incorporated into the bypass project rather than wait for the enhancement project because it's cheaper and more practical to do it now."
    The overall cost of the tunnel portion of the project is expected to be around $330,000. Jackson said it would have cost significantly more and been logistically difficult to install the tunnel after the four-lane bypass was completed.
    Weather permitting, the tunnel, built with on-site with poured concrete, should be complete within two months — before the older portion of the bypass will be ready for resurfacing.
    According to Jackson, the four-lane portion of the road should open in Nov. 2008. Currently, the road contractor is on time and under budget.
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