As part of the major project to overhaul Pullen Park, the train tunnel will be replaced.
The new tunnel wasn't in the original plans, but senior city park planner David Shouse told me that during the planning process it was discovered that the existing tunnel doesn't meet current recommended guidelines for overhead and lateral clearance. The new tunnel will be just a bit taller and wider so people can't hurt themselves if they stick their arms or head out, Shouse said.
"Most people will not notice much of a difference," he said.
There was some very brief talk about just tearing the tunnel down and not replacing it, but that idea was quickly squashed, he told me. As anybody who has ridden the Pullen train knows, the tunnel is part of the whole experience. (My daughter and I both like yelling when we ride through. Anybody else?).
"We've got people leading this project in the design team that went to Pullen as kids," he said. "We're sensitive to the generations that are familiar with the park."
Work continues on the park. Crews could begin dredging the lake any day now (if they haven't started in the last day or so). Experts will come in mid-summer to take down the carousel.
And though I've heard a rumor that an old airplane is buried in the park right near that train tunnel, Shouse said he doesn't believe it's true. Lots of parks across the country had old planes and rockets decades ago, he told me.
"I cannot imagine that anybody would go to the trouble of burying the plane when they could haul it off for scrap," he said.
The construction schedule also has slipped a little bit, Shouse said. It's looking like a late summer 2011 opening date.
If your kids can't wait until summer 2011 for a carousel ride, stay tuned to Go Ask Mom starting Friday for a series on carousels of the Triangle.