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Jackson Street opening nears


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The builder of the newest downtown Cummins Inc. office building hopes to reopen Jackson Street on May 1. But the city would like to see the street open in time for the grand opening celebration of Fourth Street later this month.

City Engineer Dave Hayward is scheduled to meet this morning with Tim Dora, the builder and part owner of the Cummins office building at Fourth and Jackson streets, to iron out details of the street opening. Dora is a partner in Cummins Office Partners LLC.

The section of Fourth Street has been closed for more than 41 years. It was first closed when The Commons was being built in 1971. Since the original Commons was demolished in 2008, the street has come close to reopening several times. But it has been delayed several times because of building projects including the new Commons and the two Cummins office buildings along Jackson Street.

 

The city had hoped to reopen the street in February, but Dora said Tuesday that was premature. He said workers are still installing some aluminum sheeting on the building near the roof, and he wanted to err on the side of safety — waiting for that work to finish before the street is reopened.

“We just want to be very careful from a safety standpoint because we are still doing some work on the roof,” Dora said.

“We want to be very careful that nothing comes flying off.”

Once that work is finished, the company still must lay another coat of asphalt, and stripes must be painted on the street for parking spaces and a center line, Dora said.

Additionally, there is some remodeling work ongoing inside the Cummins building at Third and Jackson streets, he said. Dora called it relatively minor work to construct several small meeting rooms and said it should not affect the street opening.

Hayward said he would like to have the street opened in time for the April 19 Fourth Street celebration.

“We have been pushing them, but I have said all along we don’t want to push them to do something unsafe,” Hayward said.

Jackson Street was rebuilt as part of the demolition of the original Commons, but in April 2008 construction on the Cummins office building at Third and Jackson streets started and a staging area was needed. That project finished in 2009, and the new Commons was finished in June 2011. But that same month, Cummins announced another new office building at Fourth and Jackson streets.

Hayward said the city will closely monitor the opening of Jackson Street to see how it affects the traffic patterns downtown. He said that information would help city officials to make decisions on how to handle traffic on the recently remodeled Fourth Street.

Fourth Street was closed for about four months last year to reduce it to a single lane and to install pedestrian-friendly curbs and amenities. Last week, the city has finished installing gates on Fourth Street that will be used to shut off the street for downtown celebrations.

Hayward said the opening of Jackson Street would also allow the city to open the parking spaces in front of The Commons, which are marked as a loading zone with temporary signs and traffic cones.

“We are not sure exactly what everybody wants that area to be in front of the Commons, whether we want it to be 15- to 30-minute parking or three-hour parking,” Hayward said. “I am sure we don’t want it to be unlimited all-day parking. Or if it still needs to be a loading area to drop people or materials off that are being delivered. I think that is still a little bit up in the air.”

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