President Kelley delivers long awaited gift with opening of revamped bridge
University of North Dakota President Robert Kelley played the role of Santa Claus Monday morning delivering a long awaited gift to campus.
But unlike Jolly Ol' St. Nick, who uses a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer, President Kelley only needed one big "Deere" and whole lot of horse power to do the trick.
At 9 a.m., Monday (Dec. 9), Kelley used a John Deere front loader, adorned with a large holiday wreath and green UND flags, to clear a path through the snow on the newly revamped Campus Road Bridge. The move signaled the official opening of the English Coulee crossing, which has been unusable for about two years.
About 35 people, including about 10 workers who created the new bridge, braved sub-zero temperatures to celebrate the occasion with the President and First Lady Marcia Kelley. Everyone was treated to hot apple cider and assorted breads.
"This is a great holiday present for the University," Kelley said as he and a dozen guests with scissors prepared to cut a ribbon over the new bridge. "This is an exciting day for UND because this bridge has been out for a couple years now."
Kelley talked about the importance of the bridge, which links the east and west sides of campus. He said for about two years traffic has been rerouted on campus, putting a heavier burden on University Avenue, the main thoroughfare through the heart of campus. He added that it gives heavier vehicles and machinery, as well as traffic in general, another option to cross campus, making things safer for everyone.
The new bridge meets all Federal Highway Administration requirements, and is a substantial improvement over the previous structure. Its span is higher over the English Coulee, turns are more gradual, the sidewalk is wider and it is fully lit. A stonework façade faces the Hopper Danley Spiritual Center.
Kelley emphasized that the new bridge was constructed through a partnership with the North Dakota Department of Transportation, the City of Grand Forks and UND. The Federal Highway Administration paid 80 percent of the $1.7 million cost, with UND funding the remainder.
The bridge opened to regular traffic after 10 a.m., today. Facilities Management requests that drivers use caution in the area since some work will continue. Restoration of the area will take place in the spring.