A horrific pedestrian lane has been a problem for the town of Hernando since at least 2012. Mayor Chip Johnson and the board discussed options on Tuesday evening to address flooding and lighting issues in the once passable tunnel .
The tunnel connects Dilworth Lane in Ward 3 to Riley Street in Ward 5, passing under Interstate 55 behind Hernando High School and College.
Johnson said that in 2012 people had been driving the tunnel illegally for years, but it has since been closed. Barriers were previously placed at the tunnel entrances to limit the tunnel to the exclusive use of pedestrians and bicycles. There were no barriers in place on Tuesday, December 21, as city workers cleared the area.
City officials discussed the need for more lighting and a fiber-reinforced sidewalk to handle possible car traffic. Lee Germany, director of public works, presented quotes for the improvements.
Germany said a five-foot-wide sidewalk could be laid on the south side of the tunnel, allowing foot traffic to cross over any potential flooding or standing water. For electricity, a sub-panel and a 150 amp meter would be installed to provide lighting.
“On the Dilworth side, we can tie into an energy hub there,” Germany said. “It would stretch out and the (contractor) would put four wall packs, lights hanging on the side of the wall. They would light up the ground all the way. They will also use a tamper-proof cover on it.
Jason Lowery, of Tocowa Electric in Hernando, quoted $ 5,800 for the lights. Allen Home Services, based in Evansville, Indiana, cited $ 6,300 for a 1,200 square foot sidewalk.
“Our priority should be the sidewalk,” said Ward 2 Alderman Andrew Miller. “(Pedestrians) are already walking in the water. I hope this board will go with the concrete first.
Johnson said funding for the improvement would come from the “street budget” or public works.
Aldermen Natalie Lynch and Ross said the sidewalk was a major concern for them. Lynch said she spoke to school officials who echoed her concerns.
“These are items that do not require prior approval from the board of directors,” Johnson said. “So if everyone is in agreement, we can take the low quotes, find the money in the budget, and get started as quickly as possible.”
Germany said Allen Home Services is currently available to handle the work during the current school holidays.
The board of directors unanimously approved to proceed with the improvements.