A communication breakdown forced Oklahoma City to cancel Tuesday's planned Bricktown Landing dedication and cast doubt on whether the link between Bricktown and the Oklahoma River would open in time for this week's Oklahoma Regatta Festival.
The city needs the Union Pacific Railroad's permission to open the new Bricktown Landing channel and trails since they pass under a railroad bridge next to the newly aligned Interstate 40.
The Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation is expecting up to 2,700 athletes and 20,000 spectators for the Oklahoma Regatta Festival. Highlights include Oklahoma City University's Head of the Oklahoma rowing competition and a nighttime sprint rowing event.
Elizabeth Laurent, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation, said sponsors had hoped Bricktown Landing would open in time for the Regatta Festival.
The festival begins Wednesday with a canoe “marathon” — a warm-up for an international canoeing event to be hosted by Oklahoma City in 2014 — and runs through Sunday.
Many athletes and spectators planned to stay in Bricktown so they could walk, via Bricktown Landing, between the entertainment district and the river, Laurent said.
Bricktown Landing is a boat dock and trail connection situated at the foot of the Bricktown Canal.
A channel beneath Interstate 40 and the railroad leads from the Oklahoma River to a basin about 17 feet below the south end of the Bricktown Canal, near the Centennial Land Run Monument.
Trails lead from the canal and monument down the slope to the basin. From there, it is a short walk to the boathouses on the river.
Kristy Yager, the city's spokeswoman, said “communications with the railroad on this project go back almost a decade, with most of our interaction taking place in the last two years.”
She said the city had been “ramping it up hard for the last couple of months trying to get them to move.”
The railroad received plans for Bricktown Landing last year, but learned only last week that it had been constructed, said Clint Schelbitzki, a Union Pacific spokesman in Fort Worth, Texas.
Schelbitzki said the railroad was comparing the plans to what was built to be sure “it's safe for pedestrians and boaters who are going to be using those trails.”
“I know the city is motivated and we're motivated to work together to get this project completed,” he said.