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City Council Heading City Letter Head
COMMON MEETING MINUTES
Monday, July 2, 2001- 8:30 a.m.County-City Building
Conference Room 113

COUNCIL MEMBERS IN ATTENDANCE: Jon Camp, Common Chair; Glenn Friendt, Annette McRoy (Late), Coleen Seng, Ken Svoboda, Terry Werner; COUNCIL MEMBERS ABSENT: Jonathan Cook MAYOR WESELY: In attendance (Arrived Late)

COUNTY BOARD MEMBERS IN ATTENDANCE: Kathy Campbell (Late), Bernie Heier, Larry Hudkins (Late); Ray Stevens, Bob Workman; COUNTY BOARD MEMBERS ABSENT: None.

OTHERS IN ATTENDANCE: Jim Linderholm, HWS; Dave Johnson, County Attorney's Office; Kathleen Sellman, Director, Steve Henrichsen, Kent Morgan, Mike Brienzo, Planning Department Dennis Nutter; Scott Cockrill, Allan Abbott (Director), PW; Kerry Eagan, County Board, Darrell Podany, Aide to Council Members Camp, Friendt and Svoboda; Joan Ray, Council Secretary; John Cutler, KFOR News; Chris Hain, Journal Star Representative

I. MINUTES

  • Minutes of June 4, 2001 Common Meeting

Mr. Jon Camp, Common Chair, requested a motion to approve the above-listed minutes of the Common Meeting. Mr. Bernie Heier moved approval of those minutes as presented. Mr. Ken Svoboda seconded the motion which was approved by the following vote:AYES:, Jon Camp, Glenn Friendt, Bernie Heier, Coleen Seng,, Ken Svoboda, Terry Werner, Bob Workman; ABSENT FOR VOTE: Mayor Don Wesely; Kathy Campbell, Larry Hudkins, Annette McRoy; ABSTAIN: Ray Stevens; NAYS: None; ABSENT: Jonathan Cook.

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This Meeting was Scheduled to address:

INTRODUCTION AND WELCOME OF NEWEST COMMON MEMBER
ELECTION OF NEW COMMON VICE-CHAIR
BELTWAY UPDATE
TRAFFIC AND MOBILITY SURVEY

INTRODUCTION AND WELCOME OF NEWEST COMMON MEMBER - Mr. Camp introduced Mr. Ray Stevens, the newest member of the Board of County Commissioners. Mr. Camp asked if Mr. Stevens would like to make any statements. Mr. Stevens declined.

ELECTION OF NEW COMMON VICE-CHAIR - Mr. Camp explained that the Common would be electing a new Vice-Chair to replace the former Vice-Chair, Linda Steinman, who has moved to Massachusetts. He noted that traditionally, the City and County alternate the seats of Chair and Vice-Chair, so Mr. Camp noted, with the City holding the position of Chair, that the County had the responsibility to provide the candidate for the seat of Vice-Chair. He asked if there were any nominations.

Ms. Seng nominated County Commissioner Bernie Heier to this `esteemed office'. Mr. Workman seconded the motion. There being no other names submitted for nomination, the nominations were closed.

Mr. Camp asked if Mr. Heier had a campaign speech prepared. Mr. Heier just thanked the Common Members for their confidence.

Mr. Camp called for a roll-call vote on Mr. Heier's nomination to the office of Vice-Chair of the City-County Common The motion to elect Mr. Heier as the Common Vice-Chair for the remainder of this year passed by the following vote: AYES: Jon Camp, Glenn Friendt, Coleen Seng, Ray Stevens, Ken Svoboda, Terry Werner, Bob Workman;. ABSENT FOR VOTE: Mayor Don Wesely; Kathy Campbell, Larry Hudkins, Annette McRoy; ABSTAIN: Bernie Heier; NAYS: None; ABSENT: Jonathan Cook

BELTWAY UPDATE - Mr. Steve Henrichsen, Planning Department, made the presentation. He noted a quick clarification on something that the newspaper had run regarding the schedule from last May, which talks about a more in-depth briefing. He noted that the briefing on the Staff Report and the Planning Commission recommendation is actually scheduled for August 6th. The main purpose of this meeting today is to take care of a few "house keeping" matters in terms of the schedule for the beltway.

Two pieces of information for the Common: One is on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Just last week Planning Department passed out binders that have the 304 pages of comments that were received by the Federal Highway Administration in regards to the DEIS. In that report you'll find the letters from the public - all the letters that were received at the Federal Highway Commission as well as a transcript of the Open House that was held on the DEIS. There are also other letters included that were received by other agencies. Mr. Henrichsen hoped by the end of today or early tomorrow to have copies of this available at the Downtown Kinkos Copy Center, though he did not believe that was quite set up yet. He did note that it was also available for review by the public in the Planning Department Office. We will have it available for purchase at the Downtown Kinkos as well.

He explained that the Public Works and Planning Department Staff Report was released last Wednesday. We have those Staff Reports also available in the Planning Department and on the Planning Department's Internet Website.

The main item Planning would like to discuss today is the schedule for the different hearings that are underway. He noted that there were two central questions to answer. The Schedule we have planned is as follows:

July 2nd - Commons Meeting; July 11th &18th - Planning Commission Hearings w/Action the 25th.

August 6th - Beltway Briefing at the Commons on the Planning Commission Recommendation Then there will be two hearings in joint meetings of the City Council and the County Board. These will be held on the 15th and the 22nd of August. The 15th will have a 4:00 p.m. start [Mr. Henrichsen indicated that the meeting would be held at the Cornhusker Hotel, however the meeting was later re-scheduled to be held in the Council Chambers]; on the 22nd we would continue the public hearing meeting which will be scheduled from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. with a one hour recess and re-convening at 7:00 p.m. for deliberations and action.

The questions Mr. Henrichsen had were, first, if the County Commissioners and the City Council would like to have a bus tour set up for them as was done for the Planning Commission this last Friday. The tour takes about 2-1/2 hours. He noted that both bodies had expressed interest in such a tour at earlier times.

He also asked if the two bodies had a preference as to the time the tour was scheduled. Would they prefer to have the tour after July 25th and before the August 15th Hearing date. Discussion revealed that there were some members of the Common who preferred mid-July, prior to the Planning Commission recommendation; others preferred to go just prior to the August 15th Hearing. Two tours were arranged - one on July 10th and one on August 10th, using City busses.

The second question Mr. Henrichsen posed was regarding whether or not the Council and County Board would wish to assign a third date for action in case it was determined to not have action at the 22nd meeting. A brief discussion regarding the probability and feasibility of a third meeting concluded with a determination that the decision would be made at the meeting of the 22nd.

It was requested that copies be made of the tapes of the Planning Commission meetings for Council and Commissioners to check out for review at their leisure. It was agreed that this would be done.

It was also asked if, at all of these public hearings, there would be representatives of the NRD and the Federal Highway Commission in attendance? The answer was that it could be looked into and representatives could be specifically invited, and if it were desired, representatives could be specifically requested to be in attendance. Mr. Friendt made the request to have those entities' representatives in attenance to answer questions regarding a major highway system being built in a flood plain area. He wanted to know what the NRD's plans are or have been. He noted that the elected officials had consistently heard conflicting reports about what the Fed's will allow and not allow and what they'll fund and what they won't fund.

Mr. Abbott answered that he wanted to make sure that he was talking about the Department of Roads and not the Natural Resource District. When you say NRD, he assumed Mr. Friendt was meaning the Department of Roads. Mr. Friendt indicated that he was talking about both entities. Mr. Abbott explained that when talking about the Federal Highway Administration and the Department of Roads - he did not know what the NRD has to do with this project.

Mr. Henrichsen asked if Mr. Friendt's question was if the NRD had any concerns about the roadway being in the flood plain and the NRD farm ponds as part of the Stevens Creek Plan? Mr. Friendt indicated that that was indeed his concern; the NRD had been going on with their own plans in Stevens Creek and he thought those plans should be over-laid with the City's. Mr. Abbott then re-confirmed that Mr. Friendt wanted the Department of Roads, the Federal Highway Administration and the NRD in attendance at these meetings? Mr. Friendt confirmed that.

Ms. Seng explained that both the City and the County have representatives on the NRD. Mr. Friendt indicated that he was aware of that, but did want executive staff on hand at the meetings.

TRAFFIC AND MOBILITY SURVEY - Mr. Mike Brienzo from the City/County Planning Department made the presentation. He gave a brief introduction of the Traffic and Mobility Survey which the Planning Department just completed. He explained that it was a community wide survey conducted for the City by the Signat Group. The Survey indicated that traffic flow was one of the key issues in our community. The Administration thought that it was very important to follow this up and detail the concerns in a follow-up survey. In April and May the Traffic and Mobility Survey was done by the Signat Group and they are here today to present their findings. Mr. Brienzo also requested a few moments at the end of the presentation to allow the Mayor to make a few comments.

Mr. Dennis Nutter came forward for the Signat Group. He referenced the survey that was done last fall which covered a lot of information.

The Best and Worst aspects of living in Lincoln/Lancaster County:

  • Best - Small-town atmosphere; nice community; nice people
  • Worst - Number One response (nearly 28% of the respondents) mentioned something to do with the traffic.

That wasn't the full impetus for the follow-up study, but it did show some of the driving patterns and habits of the citizens of Lincoln which helped in the development of the follow-up survey.

Peoples' attitudes toward transportation and mobility are probably more important than the details of the report. The Fall Study showed that when Lincoln/Lancaster County residents were asked what they thought the key objectives should be for the City Planning Department and elected officials as they move forward, the Number One mentioned response (35%) was to improve traffic flow. That sort of sets the stage for the rest of this presentation.

Mr. Nutter showed charts & graphics from a survey of 501 Lancaster County residents from over 600 surveys from samples that are representative of the community. Three hundred surveys which were directed at target samples that do not normally receive much representation -specifically low-income and minorities- were also included. Most of the statistics reviewed today, however, represent the 500 Lincoln/Lancaster County residents.

Mr. Nutter explained that they had first requested information that would reveal the residents' driving patterns to and from work and school and errands. The key trip would be to and from work. We found that the peak traffic hours are from 7:00 - 8:00 in the morning with 1.5 persons per household on the streets to go to work. Adding the school and errand runners, that would take it up to nearly 75% of the traffic volume during those hours.

The average commute time is approximately 16.6 minutes, which many people in the country would envy. 94% of those driving to work in the mornings go by private vehicle, not including car-pooling. 32% of the people travel for less than 10 minutes. Time, not distances was used as the measure, because in the City it is of more import.

The commuters perception of the traffic flow on the drive to work was measured. From options of Light, Moderate and Heavy - 41% stated that their traffic on the commute to work is either Light or Light-to-Moderate; another half say Moderate; so nearly 90% say that the traffic they have to drive through is Moderate to Light. - This is a pretty good report card. 12% say the traffic flow is Moderate-to-Heavy or Heavy. Details were reviewed for the Common Members.

The Evening Commute was addressed next. This traffic flow was measured between 4:30 and 6:00 p.m. The drive seems to take longer with the average drive time on the home commute at 19.4 minutes. In terms of their perception of the traffic - 35% saw the traffic as Moderate-to-Heavy or Heavy. Only 25% saw the evening traffic on the Light-to-Moderate scale. A contributing factor to this perception could be that more of the population is out and about between 4:00 and 6:00 in the afternoon than are out and about at 7:30 in the morning. It would seem that the one time of day that people perceive that there is a traffic problem is in that 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. time period.

The survey asked if the drivers of Lincoln were Very Satisfied, Mostly Satisfied, Mostly Disastified or Very Dissatisfied with the traffic conditions in Lincoln. The answers to this indicated that only 5% said Very Satisfied. But this is not something where people would be prone to say that "Oh, yes. I'm very satisfied and traffic is great!" In any kind of service or product being asked about if satisfaction is being questioned, people are not prone to give elated responses. With service issues, people to people, respondents are more prone to give either very positive or very negative results. So it's not unusual to not see that many on the Very Satisfied point of the scale.

Mr. Nutter pointed out that If you look at the upper middle point of Mostly Satisfied and combine that with the top 5% Very Satisfied, nearly 59% say that, for the most part, they're Satisfied with traffic and their ability to get around in Lincoln. Only two out of five are on the Dissatisfied side of the scale. - He observed that, overall, that is a pretty decent report card.

The survey also measured other traffic times during the day with only the evening rush hour time falling into the Below Satisfied point on the scale with three out of five being Dissatisfied during that brief time period. This Dissatisfaction for that time period crosses every geographic area in the City and every demographic group. That is an unusual circumstance.

The survey also asked how satisfied they are with traffic moving in the East/West direction and in the North/South direction. The study showed that people have a greater Disatisfaction or concern with driving the North/South direction, which Mr. Nutter stated was, to him, a surprising result.

The survey asked an Open-ended question as to what is the biggest problem they see with transportation and getting around in the City of Lincoln? The opportunity to offer two responses returned the following results.

The issues that came up most often were:

  • 1) Traffic Lights Not Well-timed or Syncronized (One out of Five)
  • 2) Streets, in places, need to be wider.
  • 3) Other things dealing with street repair
  • 4) Better Co-ordinating street construction projects
  • 5) Having more through streets
  • 6) Too many cars - too many drivers [Perhaps alluding to a need for better use of car pooling]
  • 7) 10% said there were a lot of bad drivers
  • 8) 5% mentioned people running red lights - (Mr. Nutter thought 85% might have been a closer estimate on that!)
He noted that maybe under 1/10 of the respondents named anything about public transportation.

Then the survey asked the respondents if they would Strongly Agree, Mostly Agree, Mostly Disagree, Strongly Disagree with statements such as:

They had Witnessed Poor Driving because of Driver Distraction (such as doing other things while driving)

They Would Consider Route Adjustment to Avoid Heavy Traffic - Time / Mode / Route - 1 in 7 Agree

They had or Would Consider Adjusting Their Work Schedule to Avoid Heavy Traffic - 1 in 3 Agree

They had Observed People Running Red Lights in Lincoln - 3 in 4 people Agree

They had Noticed Intersections they felt should have a Left Turn Arrow

The survey asked if Much of Traffic Congestion Would be Solved if Road Construction and Repairs in Lincoln were Better Coordinated - 71% Mostly or Strongly Agree

They were likely to take Public Transportation - 8% Agree //23% among minority respondents //9% among low-income respondents

Major Streets in Lincoln are Adequate for Carrying Volume of Traffic - 38% Agree//61% Disagree

Regarding Public Transportation -

Did they Use it on a Regular Basis: 8% Agree //23% among minority // 9% among low-income

Of That 8% - 53% Use Daily What could StarTran do or change that would cause higher ridership in your household:

  • 60% say - Nothing
  • Many thought more routes//closer to their house would increase the likelihood of their ridership.

    The survey asked if the respondents would support a Tax Increase to Support Public Transportation - 45% Would Support tax to provide Park/Ride Lots; 39% Would Support a Tax to provide bus services either 7 days per week or service later in the evening; 25% Would Support Tax to eliminate bus fares.

    Only 9% are walking or riding a bike to work/school/errands. 33% would consider it, however.

    The question was posed "Would You Prefer to Spend Public Funds to Build Roadways and Improve Street Systems in Lincoln or Spend More Funds on Encouraging the Use of Non-Vehicle Public Transportation/Walking/Biking, etc". - More than Two to One, they preferred to build roadways and improve street systems (68%); 29% favored encouraging the alternative transportation.

    Mr. Camp asked if, as that question was asked, were the actual cost of the projects factored? Mr. Nutter replied that they had not, just the concept was posed. Mr. Friendt noted that the question involved spending taxes on the different services, so that implied a cost for the decisions. Mr. Nutter noted that question was meant to determine the bent of public attitude on the issues and not be an indicator of cost considerations and resource allotments, but which would be a better use of the resource allotments?

    Another Question "Would you prefer More Traffic Signals or intersections on Main Roads to improve access to area business OR Fewer Traffic Signals on Main Roads to have fewer stops from one destination to another?"

    • Most Preferable - Fewer Traffic Signals & Keep Traffic Moving
    • Two out of Five preferred the More Traffic Signals.

    Mr. Workman asked if the survey had included a question about making U-Turns - Would anyone prefer U-turns? Mr. Nutter stated that that had not been asked and it did not come out in the open-ended questions either.

    When asked if they would prefer to widen existing major streets in older neighborhoods to four lanes to improve traffic flow, OR leave major streets as two lanes with a center turning lane to avoid impacting older homes and neighborhoods, Three out of Five would prefer preserving those older homes and neighborhoods. Some see a contradiction with that earlier open-ended question where the Number Two response to the Open-ended Question was "Widen the Streets". Actually, some of those answers would be from different people. Some could actually be the same, but would indicate a choice of widening in a way that preserves the older homes and neighborhoods.

    The Last Question was another "Trade-Off" Question which is similar to the two previous questions: "Would you prefer to widen key four-lane highways to six-lanes to improve traffic flow OR do you want to keep key highway and streets as four-lanes to preserve the appearance of businesses, etc. along those roadways?" The responses were exactly evenly split on that question.

    That is basically Lincoln and Lancaster County resident's opinions on Transportation and Mobility Issues, primarily within the City. The entire County was included in the survey, but most of the questions were focused on traffic movement within the City of Lincoln.

    Mr. Friendt asked about the distribution of the survey wondering if it were proportionate to the district maps of the City. Mr. Nutter stated that the survey distribution had been based on 1990 census figures and was fairly representative the area population.

    Mayor Wesely had closing remarks noting that the information was some of what people already know, but gave a little more definition as to where people are "coming from" [in their attitudes]. As we continue to cooperate with the County in integrating such things as the grading on County roads with the City streets system and a number of other things, Mayor Wesely noted we have a strategy here with the Beltway, Antelope Valley, East "O" Street, Highway 34...there are a number of initiatives that blend together and the strategy seems to fall pretty much in line with what we just heard.

    The Mayor added that we're also hiring a traffic engineer, one of these days. He noted that they were interviewing this week for that position. When that slot is filled, that will help with the key issue of the synchronisation of the traffic lights.

    The Mayor noted the Kawasaki Tour which had been held last Friday and encouraged everyone to take the tour stating that it was a tremendous facility. Mr. Hudkins stated that they had really appreciated all of the cooperation it had taken to complete the project. He felt it would be a good project for Lincoln and Lancaster County. The Mayor credited the great City/County cooperation in attaining this coup for our community.

    Mr. Camp hoped that after the congestion discussion that they could, sometime soon, readdress the concept of the downtown shuttle service. He felt the small geographic area involved would make it feasible.

    Mr. Camp, asking Ms. Ray if there were any administrative issues to take up before adjourning, commented upon her response that future agenda items should be presented as soon as possible in order to plan the upcoming Common schedule.

    OLD BUSINESS - None

    NEW BUSINESS- None

    ADJOURNMENT - Mr. Camp noted that the Common would stand adjourned until the August 6th meeting. The meeting was adjourned at approximately 9:40 a.m.

    Submitted by
    Joan V. Ray
    Council Secretary

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