14th Street - Warlick Blvd - Old Cheney Road Intersection Improvement Project: FAQ
Q: What is a traffic design competition?
A: Three traffic design engineering firms were asked to evaluate the current intersection and independently come up with their best concept that addresses the project goals and community input. The firm with the best design concept will receive a contract amendment to complete the final design.
Q. What has been happening with the decision-making process?
A: Mayor Chris Beutler announced on July 23, 2013, that city would initiate an inexpensive alternative to improve traffic flow that simply required re-striping lane lines and changing traffic signs.
But that alternative was never envisioned as a permanent solution. It was envisioned as an intermediate measure to allow us to more thoroughly examine the three proposals submitted as part of the design competition as a review of the performance and safety of the city's roundabouts, particularly at 14th and Superior Streets before making any competition winner announcement.
This two-year study was recently completed and the findings show an improvement in traffic movement while at the same time demonstrating a dramatic reduction in crashes at this key intersection from its previous traditional 4-way signalized design into a roundabout design.
At the 14th & Superior roundabout, injury crashes are down 75%. Those are dramatic reductions and demonstrate how roundabouts protect motorists and save dollars.
Modifications to the original design have reduced the overall crash rate by over 50% and is actually equal to the pre-roundabout intersection. The severity of crashes, however, has been dramatically reduced. These are now bumper-to-bumper or sideswipe incidents instead of T-bone type collisions. Every day, drivers move through these designs quickly and safely on their way to work, home, shopping, school, and more.
Q. Why was the FHU design selected?
A: Project Area Stakeholders, those people that live and the organizations located in the immediate area of the project were deeply involved in the process before the engineering firms began the design competition. Stakeholders identified 6 priorities for the design competition and the competing firms also needed to address 8 additional project goals in their designs.
The FHU design provided the greatest balance of stakeholder priorities and project goals.
Q: Is this exactly what's being built or will changes be made?
A: The competition was really aimed at the development of concepts. This is a base concept that will be worked from. As the project moves forward during the public engagement process, it is expected that changes, adjustments and tweaks will be made.
Q. Are there other examples of circular overpasses that have been constructed?
A: Yes, there are several elevated roundabouts in the United States and you can find additional examples in Canada, Europe and South America.
Q. When is this project supposed to begin and be completed?
A: Further concept design work will begin around mid-August 2015 and we anticipate construction to begin in October 2019.
Q. What is the anticipated cost of the project?
A: Pre-construction costs which include purchase of right-of-way, engineering and utility relocation are anticipated to be approximately $4 million. Constructions costs have not been finalized at this time due to the need to refine the concept and develop detailed construction phasing plans, but the total project cost is anticipated to be approximately $20 million.
Q. How will the public remain informed about this project?
A: The city will continue to work closely with our project area stakeholders every step of the way and multiple general public meetings are anticipated to review project designs and other project elements. We also have a project page on the city website and will continue to provide project updates for the entire community.
Q. What is wrong with the changes already put into place?
A: The city initiated an inexpensive alternative to improve traffic flow that simply required re-striping lane lines and changing traffic signs. But that alternative was never envisioned as a permanent solution. It was envisioned as an intermediate measure.
The continued growth of Southwest Lincoln will bring increased traffic volumes requiring a long-term solution. Already a major transportation corridor and one of the busiest intersections in Lincoln, it handles nearly 38,000 cars per day. By 2040, that number will increase to 59,000 cars per day. So - we're planning for that 55% increase in traffic volume. This solution is projected to serve the area at an acceptable level of service out to 2055.
Q: How do you remove snow off the bridges for the upper level?
A: It's really not much different that the Harris overpass on "O" Street, 14th street over Cornhusker highway, or any of a number of overpasses across the community. Public Works can provide the exact details, but they already handle this kind of maintenance across the community.
Q: How much will it cost and where will the additional money come from?
A: In 2012 numbers, the preliminary project estimate was $15.3 million. We need to refine the total project cost numbers to 2019 amounts, but we anticipate them to be around $20 million. With that said however, the refinements we make and hard engineering results we pursue can change that projected project cost. Currently, we have $10 million dedicated to the project and will utilize the Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) and Capital Improvement Program processes to program the remaining funding. The 2015 LRTP process is currently underway and does incorporate robust public engagement and citizen involvement. CIP development will follow in 2016 where the citizens and their elected officials will go through the next 6 years to identify the source of funds to support this and other street projects.
Q: The State is set to begin construction on the South Beltway in 2020. How will these projects be coordinated? The State is also set to do road construction on 14th and Warlick in 2017. How will your efforts be coordinated with the State so that they aren't tearing up newly installed infrastructure 3 years later?
A: We're working very closely with NDOR on State-led projects and will continue to coordinate construction of this intersection with construction of the South Beltway and with other roads projects in the area. Repairs are needed in the area to hold the road together over the next 4 to 7 years until construction is complete.
Q: What happened to previous designs for these intersections?
A: Elements from previous designs were implemented to provide incremental improvements. However, previous designs proved to be difficult to implement because of costs, design limitations or adverse impacts on private property owners.
Q: How much private property will be taken for this project?
A: The City of Lincoln agrees with project area stakeholders that the absolute minimal amount of right-of-way should be used for new designs and this was a goal of the design competition.
Q: What are the critical issues that the design competition is seeking to address?
A: Safety and minimizing congestion at peak traffic flow times in the morning and afternoon are top priorities. Other key issues are improving connectivity for pedestrians and bicyclists, aesthetics, and minimizing right-of-way impacts, decreasing traffic on Old Cheney Road west of Warlick Blvd., all in a cost-effective solution.