The N.C. Department of Transportation had hoped a new pedestrian tunnel connecting the State Fairgrounds with Carter-Finley Stadium would be open in time for N.C. State University’s home football opener on Sept. 1.
The weather hasn’t cooperated.
NCDOT now expects the 25-foot-wide tunnel under Trinity Road to be completed by Sept. 15, in time for the Wolfpack’s third home game against West Virginia. Until then, fans will cross Trinity as they always have, though they’ll have to make their way around the fenced-off construction site where the ramps and stairways leading to the tunnel are still being built.
Sept. 15 is the date Crowder Construction Company of Charlotte is required to finish the project under its contract with the state. The contract also provided financial incentives to reward the company if it got the tunnel done a month early, but that won’t be happening.
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Rainy weather has slowed the work, said Chad Hinnant, the resident engineer for NCDOT. Measurable amounts of rain have fallen at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on 10 of the first 15 days of August, and some of that came in downpours that turn construction sites to mud.
“The last couple of weeks has been terrible on every contractor,” Hinnant said.
The building of the tunnel required NCDOT to close Trinity Road near Youth Center Drive starting in early March. Crowder’s contract included incentives for getting the road reopened by Aug. 1, and the company beat that goal by nearly two weeks.
The tunnel is expected to cost $4.3 million. In addition to football games, it will get heavy use during the State Fair in October and big events at PNC Arena.
The tunnel is not the only construction work that NC State football fans will notice when they attend games this year. Workers have begun moving dirt on more than 18 acres off Trinity Road that for years had been used for parking during football games and the fair. It will soon be covered with apartments.