Dead-end debate over Hobart street
BY KAREN CAFFARINI Post-Tribune correspondent August 8, 2014 9:18PM
Two concrete barricades were placed by the city of Hobart about five years ago to separate South Ash Street north of 14th Street from the wider portion of the road to the south. Now that the northern section has been widened, some residents want the barricades removed permanently. | Karen Caffarini/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 11, 2014 6:35AM
HOBART — From their home on South Ash Street, Richard and Judy Morehouse could have easy access to nearby St. Mary Medical Center and the stores and restaurants across from it — if it weren’t for the two concrete barriers blocking the street just south of their house.
As a result, the couple must drive several blocks north to 10th Street, take that to Indiana 51 and head back south to visit those places, a roundabout trip that the couple say no longer should be necessary now that their stretch of Ash Street has been widened and utility work there is completed.
Richard Morehouse recently presented a petition to Mayor Brian Snedecor asking that the street be permanently opened to through traffic from 10th to 14th streets.
While the petition was signed by 73 residents of Ash Street and the Kirby Manor apartments on 14th Street, Snedecor said he also has heard from people living on that stretch of Ash who want the road to remain a dead end, fearing that opening the road will lead to an influx of traffic and speeding motorists.
Snedecor told the Board of Public Works last week that he planned to invite all of the residents on South Ash to a meeting to get their input before making a decision.
“I want a one-on-one dialogue with residents and will report back to the board,” Snedecor said.
Morehouse said he’s lived on the street for 38 years and there are residents who want it to remain a dead end and there are those who don’t.
“I would like to see it opened, but I ran the petition to get the voice of the people,” he said, noting those opposed to the street being opened didn’t sign it.
Morehouse also circulated petitions in the past to get city water and sewers to the street.
Morehouse said Ash Street dead-ended at 14th Street until about five years ago, when developers of the Kirby Manor apartments extended it south from 14th Street with a two-lane road with curbs and gutters.
“The city put the barricades at 14th then, saying it was dangerous going from the new two-lane road to the one-lane street by our houses. That’s understandable,” Morehouse said.
But he said the city has since widened the road to two lanes from 14th to 10th Street so that danger no longer exists.
Councilman David Vinzant, D-4th, said, however, that Ash Street is still a narrow road with sides dropping right into a ditch.
“If people use the road as a shortcut to the hospital, there could be some traffic issues,” Vinzant said.
Morehouse conceded some of his neighbors have complained about speeding motorists and drag races taking place on the street.
“There is no drag racing,” he said.
“There are some people who drive too fast down our street, but people have the same complaint on just about any street in the city,” he said.
Judy Morehouse said the neighbors most opposed to opening up Ash Street are those who live on the corner of 10th Street, who, she said, aren’t being inconvenienced.
She also pointed out that some people are just driving around the barricades to take the shortcut to the hospital and 61st Avenue.
“Kirby Manor just sodded their area and people are ruining it by going around the barricades and driving on the sod,” Judy Morehouse said.