Sixth Street project proves painful
Construction on Sixth Street is still on track to be completed before the Maple Leaf Festival in October, but that won't stop the confusion now with the start of school.
With Baker University set to start Monday, students will be returning to town, and a torn up Sixth Street, this week.
"It affects us enormously," Baker's Director of Public Relations John Fuller said of the construction. "We have parking lots and residence halls off of Sixth Street. It's a main thoroughfare for our students.
"Not having it open is going to affect us," he said.
Even though students are used to the street being open, Fuller said they will have to adjust and find other routes to travel.
"We'll let them know through the residence halls about the construction," he said. "But we're just going to have to be as patient as we can be."
Baker isn't the only one feeling the effects of the street construction.
When school began last Thursday, parents dropping their children off at Baldwin Elementary School had to leave home a little earlier than normal to avoid delays.
BES principal Tom Mundinger said he was expecting some traffic delays because the Chapel Street intersection was blocked off.
"We fully anticipated it was going to be a mess," Mundinger said. "I was fearful."
But he said the school warned parents of the construction and gave alternate routes by sending out a mass email to as many parents as possible.
"The parents did a great job adjusting to the traffic," he said. "It just went great."
City Administrator Larry Paine said the Chapel intersection is now open allowing better access to the elementary school.
"We primarily got that open for student safety and access," Paine said.
All of the construction is still expected to be completed by the third week in October, despite a few small delays, he said.
"There were a couple of delays early on because of the weather," he said. "But we haven't had much rain that would create problems."
He said Dearborn Street, between Sixth and Seventh streets, was closed Monday to complete Baker curb and gutter improvements and should only be closed for a couple of weeks.
Until the construction is cleared up, Paine said people needing access to Baker on the North side should enter from Fifth and Chapel streets and access to the South side of Baker should be from Eighth Street.
He said people should not be driving around barricades and onto Sixth Street.
"It's blocked off because of a construction project," Paine said. "There are hazards there. If people drive on it, they could damage their car or injure themselves from being in some place they shouldn't."
He said the Baldwin City Police Department will issue citations to anyone caught driving on Sixth Street.
Paine said people need to be patient until the construction is complete.
"The inconvenience will be short lived," he said.