The Taj Mahal of pedways — the Mary E. Sias Pedestrian Walkway, which connects Kentucky State University’s main campus above East Main Street to dormitories and athletic fields to the south — was crowned with its final touch earlier this week, a KSU sign matching the one near the campus entrance.
A Ruggles Signs work crew installed the sign Tuesday afternoon capping off a years-long construction project that endured numerous delays and ended up costing the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, at last count, $5.1 million — more than double the $2.2 million the design consultants originally estimated construction would cost.
The project includes a bus pull-off area and the pedestrian walkway is equipped with an elevator, but the total price tag rose considerably after plans were modified to include a roof over the walkway, a connection to Hathaway Hall and steps to the ground. Relocating the sewer and utilities also added to the cost. However, KSU paid for the installation of security cameras and emergency phones.
In addition to the ballooning cost, the work on the pedestrian bridge — which was originally slated to be completed in January 2017 — fell behind schedule when undocumented utilities were found to be in the way of the pedway’s support beams and the owners had to be identified. The contractor also suspended work for several weeks and was slapped with a $3,250 fee for each day the project was delayed.
The idea for the pedway was conceived during Sias’ tenure — hence the naming — and was designed to replace the nearby pedestrian tunnel that went under East Main Street as well as discourage students from crossing traffic on the busy road.
While we agree that the walkway was necessary for safety reasons, we still question the exorbitant cost of the project for the amount of use it gets. Because, not only does the KSU pedway put all other overpasses in town to shame, it is also rare to see someone actually using it.
We’d love to hear what you think. Was the Mary E. Sias Pedestrian Walkway worth the $5.1 million the state paid for it?