Coping with Construction ▸ What to Expect
You already know to expect dust, mud, noise, orange barrels, and changes in traffic patterns. Here are some other “side effects” you may not have recognized.
Access During Construction
We understand that access to your business is a top concern. You rely on your customers, employees, and suppliers to keep your business going. While it is inevitable that construction crews will need to work in front of driveways and access roads that lead to businesses, the City must maintain alternate access routes during construction. Unfortunately, this temporary access cannot always be as direct as the access before construction began. In addition, access may need to be provided on a newly graded, interim access road or may need to change several times throughout construction.
The City encourages businesses to use City-approved directional signs and to join together to communicate with customers and find ways to attract them throughout construction. See the Tips and Ideas section of this guide for more information.
On larger projects, the best time to begin communicating about access to your business is during the design stage of a project, when initial construction phasing plans are being developed. During this time, the City contacts the affected property and business owners and holds informational meetings. Your input will help the designers develop a recommended construction phasing plan.
On smaller projects, the City will contact the affected property and business owners to inform them of the upcoming project. While formal meetings are not always necessary, property and business owners can and should contact the City’s representative, who is listed on any project materials you will receive or on any posted signage.
This initial plan may need to change once a contractor is selected, according to the resources available to the contractor. At this time, more specifics can be known about duration of access changes and detours. Once a contractor is selected, you can remain in contact with the project manager so that necessary changes can be made with your input and you remain informed.
Closures and Detours
The City must strike a balance between giving full reign of a project area to the contractor and providing full access to people who need to get to and from the adjacent property, all while ensuring the work zone is safe for workers and the general public.
Allowing the contractor the freedom to work on a closed road can shorten the duration of construction while keeping costs lower, but it creates a greater inconvenience to people who need to access the adjacent property. Providing greater access for motorists–by keeping lanes open and using flagging crews–lessens inconveniences for motorists but can lengthen the duration of construction and increase cost.
While each project is evaluated, there are three typical ways to handle traffic during construction:
- Under construction, open to traffic. Typically at least one lane remains open in each direction.
- Closed to through-traffic, open only to local traffic. Detours are provided. This type of closure may be necessary to reduce the risk of conflicts with motorists when the construction requires many trucks and heavy equipment to be maneuvering in the area. However, local traffic that begins or ends within the construction zone is still allowed access, although the path may be very bumpy, dusty, or muddy.
- Closed to all but emergency vehicles. Detours are provided. A road may need to be closed to all but emergency vehicles. In these cases, affected property owners are notified, and efforts are made to complete the work as quickly as possible.
When road closures are necessary, detours are marked with appropriate signage. Even for local traffic beginning or ending at property adjacent to the closed area, detours are usually a quicker, smoother way to travel. Less local traffic within the construction zone also means fewer interruptions and a safer working environment for construction crews, which can help control costs and ultimately contribute to construction being completed sooner.
Construction in developed areas is similar to an intricate surgery. Peeling back the earth and pavement is only the first step to this process. A number of utility lines run along the roadway right-of-way to service the properties. These include both private and public utilities, such as telephone, gas, fiber optic, television, electric, water, storm drainage, and sanitary sewer utilities.
Service lines need to be identified and may require careful removal or relocation. These activities can be hazardous and must be coordinated between the utility and roadway construction crews. Actual construction often must cease until these lines are identified, service is shut off, and lines are relocated.
When planned service interruptions are necessary, you will be notified in advance. With so much activity on a construction site, sometimes service is inadvertently interrupted. The contractor works to communicate and correct unplanned interruptions as soon as possible. In some cases, the timing of an interruption may be coordinated with local businesses or properties.
Most private property impacts are known during the final stages of a project’s design and are negotiated with the owner before the project goes to construction. In addition to purchasing land for the project, there may be other impacts to your property as well. For example, lighting, fencing, signage, landscaping, or sprinkler systems may need to be relocated.
The City follows federal, state, and local laws for reimbursing and compensating owners of private property affected by a publicly funded project. The City’s Real Estate and ROW Division (lincoln.ne.gov, keyword: urban, or call 402-441-7864) has more information and can help you through this process. The City’s Right-of-Way Acquisition and Your Property (80 K) pamphlet can provide additional information.
Access After Construction
The way motorists access your property could change permanently once construction is complete. "Access management" is a process used to balance the competing needs of traffic movement and land access to prevent safety problems and traffic congestion. When a new road is built or an existing road is improved, the new design usually includes some form of access management to ensure the road’s longterm effectiveness.
Methods of access management could include:
- Limiting the number of driveways and signalized intersections,
- Standardized spacing between driveways and between intersections,
- Raised medians,
- Dedicated turn lanes (auxiliary lanes),
- Sharing driveways, and
- Interior (frontage) roads that separate traffic traveling at lower speeds from traffic traveling at higher speeds.
A New Environment
Once infrastructure improvements are completed, the environment will have a different appearance. Many roadway projects involve adding additional lanes, which could mean a narrower space between traffic and your place of business. The new through lanes and/or turn lanes make for a safer roadway with less congestion. New traffic signals promote better traffic circulation.
New or updated pavement, sidewalks, street lights, traffic signals, pavement markings, and signing may also be part of the project. Driveways could be more or less steep once a roadway is tied back to the elevation of the property. Curbs, sidewalks, and associated landscaping could be at a higher or lower elevation. Removing trees and other landscaping may be necessary, as well as making changes to lights and signs.
Where possible, the City tries to mitigate these impacts and add aesthetic interest with new landscaping or architectural elements. All changes occur within City Codes and standards.
While you won’t always see these changes after construction is complete, you’ll recognize their benefits. New water mains bring added flow, pressure, and reliability to the system. New storm sewers and inlets increase the capacity and keep water moving during rain showers. New sanitary sewer lines ensure that our system can grow with the city and remain reliable.