Mayor Chris Beutler and City Council Member Cyndi Lamm today announced a plan to improve Havelock Avenue to better accommodate traffic in the area of the Lancaster Event Center on North 84th Street. Lamm will introduce a resolution to the Council Monday, March 20 for the $2.27 million project, which is being coordinated with the Lancaster County Board and the Lancaster Event Center, operated by the Lancaster County Agricultural Society.
"I am excited for such an important investment in northeast Lincoln," Lamm said. "The project will provide much needed access to the Lancaster Event Center and better traffic flow to the rest of northeast Lincoln for those who attend and those who participate in the many great events taking place there."
Part of the funding for the project is coming from money set aside for labor contracts for the 2014-2016 budget. The Budget Office estimated the cost because several union contracts were not yet settled when the budget was developed. Successful negotiations led to $1.17 million in savings over the amount budgeted, so that money is available for the project. The other $1.1 million will be covered by impact fees.
"The Lancaster Event Center is an important venue for tourism and economic development for the community," Mayor Beutler said. "This is an excellent use of the labor savings and I appreciate Cyndi's leadership and our partnerships with the Council and County Board to make these needed improvements."
"The Lancaster County Board has been advocating for improvements to the North 84th Street and Havelock Avenue intersection for several years," said County Board Chair Todd Wiltgen. "The project will not only improve traffic safety for those individuals visiting the Lancaster Event Center, I believe it will also stimulate economic development in northeast Lincoln and Lancaster County. I appreciate Mayor Beutler and the City Council for prioritizing this important project."
Managing Director Amy Dickerson said the Lancaster Event Center hosts about 300 shows a year, attracting about half a million visitors. "The Event Center has an estimated economic impact of $40 million a year to the local economy, and this great investment will help us continue to grow that impact," she said. "We often have trailers over 50 feet long and 3,000 spectators trying to enter or leave the grounds at the same time. The improvements will make it much easier and safer for local residents attending shows like the County Super Fair or this week's Shrine Circus as well as the regional and national visitors to shows like the National High School Rodeo Finals that we will host four out of 12 years beginning in 2020."
The project will reconstruct the intersection of Havelock Avenue and North 84th Street, and the grade will be raised to decrease flooding during heavy rains. The project will also add turn lanes and increase the length of existing turn lanes. If the project is approved, design would be completed this year. Construction would begin construction in April 2019 and be finished in November 2019.