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CITY OF LINCOLN   •   NEWS RELEASE   •   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date:
December 12, 2001
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
Al Imig, Public Works and Utilities Dept., 441-7711
Linda Beacham, The Schemmer Associates, 488-2500

East "O" Street Contractor & Schedule Announced

Lincoln Mayor Don Wesely today announced that Constructors Inc. of Lincoln has been awarded the bid for the East "O" Street Project. The company signed a $12 million contract with the city to widen "O" Street to six lanes from 52nd Street to Wedgewood Drive over the next two years.

"'O' Street is the main east-west street through Lincoln, and everyone who travels it understand that widening the street to relieve traffic congestion is overdue," said Mayor Wesely. "Because it is a major route through the city, we know the project will cause some inconvenience. I ask for everyone’s patience over the next two years as we widen and improve this major arterial."

A 1997 traffic study by The Schemmer Associates showed that 36,900 vehicles a day were traveling on "O" Street, which was designed to handled up to 32,000 vehicles a day. Projections show that traffic on "O" Street will increase to more than 45,000 vehicles a day by 2020.

The total cost of the project is about $18.5 million, which includes right-of-way acquisition. The Federal Highway Administration will fund 80 percent of the project through the Nebraska Department of Roads. The 20 percent to be funded by the City of Lincoln includes a $1.2 million contribution from R.E.J. Group, the former owners of the Gateway Shopping Center.

Constructors Inc. will begin preliminary work, which will not affect traffic, later this week. That includes setting up temporary signals and signs that will be used to direct traffic when construction begins. Work to accommodate driveway construction for several businesses will result in some temporary lane closures beginning in late February or early March.

Construction will be in two phases:

When construction of Phase I is completed, the one-way pair traffic system will be initiated for Cotner Boulevard and 56th Street. This system is designed to handle the heavy traffic safely by prohibiting left turns at the intersections of "O" Street with 56th Street and Cotner Boulevard.

In the one-way pair system, 56th Street from "P" to Randolph streets will be one way south. Cotner Boulevard from Randolph to “P” streets will be one way north. The portion of "P" Street between Cotner and 56th will be one way west. The portion of "N" Street from 56th to Cotner will be one way east.

"At first glance, turning right to go left might seem inconvenient, but anyone who has waited in the left-turn lanes on “O” Street knows the current system does not work well anymore," said Linda Beacham, Project Manager with The Schemmer Associates. "It will take some getting used to, but the new system will reduce the chances of collision and keep drivers moving instead of waiting in line."

The City of Lincoln, The Schemmer Associates and Constructors Inc. will hold a public meeting in early February 2002 to discuss the construction plans and answer questions.

"We’re looking forward to getting started, and we’re pleased to have the opportunity to communicate directly with the public about this major project," said Constructors’ President Randy Howard.

The project team plans to keep the public informed on the progress of the project through an automated telephone line; a monthly newsletter to interested parties; updates on the web sites of the city () and The Schemmer Associates’ ( updates on the government cable access channel, 5 CITY-TV; informational brochures; and continued meetings and open houses.

"This is one of the most complex roadway projects the city has ever undertaken," said Al Imig, Project Manager with the city Public Works and Utilities Department. "We are committed to doing everything we can to let the public know how the project is progressing and how they can safely travel through the project area."

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