Helena pedestrian tunnel to open under Highway 52

Published 2:39 pm Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Before long, Helena residents won’t have to worry about looking both ways before they cross Highway 52.

Shelby County and U.S. Steel have begun the work on a pedestrian tunnel to run under Highway 52 in Helena, said Helena building official George Pickle.

The tunnel will be part of a walkway that will eventually connect the Hillsboro subdivision all the way to Helena Middle School. Such a walkway is part of the vision for Helena’s future, Pickle said.

“If you look at our master plan for the city of Helena, there are connected trails and bypass roads,” he said. “Some of those things are becoming a reality for the city.”

On Highway 52, workers have installed a temporary road so motorists can bypass the construction work. The tunnel itself, which will be 100 feet long, will be installed soon, Pickle said.

“The tunnel should be brought in very quick. They’ve dug up the road already,” he said. “The tunnel part should be coming in within the next two or three weeks.”

Once the tunnel is installed, the road and infrastructure will have to be put back into place. Because of that, the project will take months to complete, according to county engineer Randy Cole.

Cole said the tunnel project would cost approximately $300,000. U.S. Steel is footing the bill for the project.

Pickle said the project benefits the city by allowing its citizens plenty of available space to walk and exercise.

“People are allowed to just walk on through and avoid having to deal with the cars,” he said. “The tunnel’s going to make it safer for those families that want to walk across the road.”

The pedestrian walkway project will be a major part of the Helena community for a long time, Pickle said.

“It’s going to connect different subdivisions and the schools. It’s going to help the people that want to travel around by walking to different places,” he said. “You don’t have to go get in a car and drive.”