It may not be safe to open Indiana Street now, but city officials should keep the pressure on developers of the new Oread Inn project to get the street open as soon as possible.
Although developers had hoped to open Indiana Street partially from 11th to 12th streets this fall, they now are asking the city to keep the street fully closed for almost another year. City commissioners decided Tuesday to review the situation in February to see whether the street can be opened sooner.
Unfortunately city commissioners have little leverage in this situation. The hotel construction has created a dangerous situation in the area, including a hole 30 feet deep and a large crane operating just a few feet from Indiana Street. It would be unsafe to allow traffic in the area now, but is there any possibility the street could be at least partially opened by February or even earlier?
Indiana Street is one of the least steep routes to the Kansas University campus, putting it in high demand during icy weather. The city and the developers have promised to put a priority on treating 11th and 12th streets for ice and snow, but it will be a tall order to keep either of those steep routes safe for motorists if we have a harsh winter.
There's no going back on this project, so it seems that city officials and the community now must depend on the goodwill of the developers to try to get Indiana Street open as soon as possible. It's unfortunate they misjudged their ability to open the street this fall; hopefully, as work progresses on the hotel project, they will find a way to beat their latest street-opening estimate of August 2009.