The Closing of the Footbridge
During April of 2008 the bridge's structure broke, leaving it unsafe for the pedestrians and bicyclers who usually passed over it. That semester Wilson put up safety barriers and the college tore the bridge down with plans of rebuilding. Not only does this bridge connect the main part of campus to the Equestrian Center, it also connects the campus to the Rails- to-Trails path that runs along the Conococheague.
Still Broken? Students Wonder Why
This semester, nearly two years later, the bridge remains broken. Jim Fisher, Vice President of Finance and Administration, explains that they considered pre-made bridges but lack the funding. An estimated total cost for the bridge, according to Fisher, is about $123,000. The company Wilson plans to hire is Excel Bridge Manufacturing. A steel pedestrian and bicycle bridge that costs about $50,000 will hopefully replace the broken bridge. Once they obtain funding, construction would take anywhere from six to ten months. Fisher says, "Some site-work will be needed due to the slope of the existing ramp." This existing concrete ramp is too steep to be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) approved. Construction for this and placing lighting around the bridge is estimated at $17,000.
Permits are needed to build over the Conococheague, which previously delayed bridge construction. However, utilizing a crane to place a pre-made bridge would deter the need for a permit. This leaves only the problem of expenses. During this past year Sylvia DuRant, Director of Foundation, Government and Academic Grants, worked with Fisher and Dan Golliday, General Manager of the Physical Plant, to submit a request for a congressional appropriation to Congressman Bill Shuster's office. These types of appropriation requests fund projects that benefit the district. The appropriation request was not approved for funding. Since, Wilson has been searching for other funding options.
Bridge's Future Left Uncertain: a Search for Funds
Wilson is currently exploring two options. One is teaming up with the Rails-to-Trails organization to help with the funding. The second is searching for grants as a source of funding. Fisher hopes something comes along, but if not Wilson may join the bridge building project with other renovation projects, such as paving and making updates to old buildings on campus, as part of the next Capital Campaign.
The Wilson College Government Association (WCGA) held an informational meeting on Nov. 16 on topics such as the footbridge. Beth Bush, WCGA Academic Affairs Chair says that WCGA hopes to receive student feedback on these topics so they can better inform administration.