The initial intent of the closure at Timber Rd. and US-56 was to satisfy citizen concerns over safety hazards brought about by increased traffic there, city officials said at the time.
That’s the narrative they’re sticking to, even in the face of criticism from business owners along the highway who believe Timber Rd. should have remained open.
“Government’s role and responsibility first and foremost is to protect and ensure the safety of people,” city administrator Roger Holter said. “It has never been to place business ahead of public safety.”
Holter said Superior Wine and Liquor owner David Yates, who said his store is losing “$100 to $150 a day” because of closures, is the only one to have approached the city with concerns.
“It’s unfortunate that his business has suffered,” Holter said. “But it is that balancing act.”
Economic development director Terry Jones said he hasn’t spoken to any business owners during the detour and closure process.
“I didn’t even know that (Timber Rd.) was going to be closed until I saw it myself,” he said.
Holter said he talked to the owners of Ace Hardware, but no one else.
Mervin Lare, KDOT project manager, said the closure is still supposed to come down within the week as work on the US-56/77/K-150 roundabout shifts to the east side of US-77 and US-56 is reopened.
“I think Monday or Tuesday of next week, it’ll be opened back up,” he said.
He added that Sept. 5 was still the final date the contractor is allowed to keep US-56 closed without incurring penalties.
“I would encourage business owners, if they have any kind of signage, that we would be more than happy to help them get that deployed to allow people to know where they’re at,” Holter said. “Unfortunately that is all that comes to mind that we can help, is directional signage.
“Hopefully this is all behind us at the end of the week.”