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Mayor's Office Heading City Letter Head

October 16, 2003

For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831

Welcome Back to East "O" celebration planned for October 21

Mayor Coleen J. Seng today welcomed traffic back to East “O” Street and announced that the second and final phase of the widening project was finished nine days ahead of schedule. As promised, four lanes are open as crews continue working to finish median surfacing, sidewalks, street lighting and retaining walls over the next month.

The two-year, two-phase project widened East “O” Street from two to three lanes in each direction from 52nd Street to Wedgewood Drive and included work on intersecting streets. To celebrate the completion of the project, the public is invited to participate in Welcome Back to East “O,” an event planned for Tuesday, October 21.

“The completion of this important project to ease traffic congestion and improve safety is a reason for the entire community to celebrate,” said Mayor Seng. “I want to congratulate all those involved in this effort to improve the major east-west route through our City. I also want to thank the businesses and the public for their patience during construction.”

A 1997 traffic study by The Schemmer Associates showed that 36,900 vehicles a day were traveling on “O” Street, which was designed to handle 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.

After an extensive planning and public review process, construction on phase one began in March 2002. The first phase widened East “O” from 52nd Street to Eastridge Drive. It included reconstruction on 56th Street between “P” and “N” streets and on Cotner between “P” and Randolph streets.

This phase also included the implementation of the one-way pairs system, designed to handle heavy traffic safely by prohibiting left turns at the intersections of “O” Street with 56th Street and Cotner Boulevard. The one-way pairs system also avoided the need to widen 56th and Cotner through residential neighborhoods. Phase one was completed in September 2002, more than four weeks ahead of schedule.

Phase two, which began in March 2003 widened East “O” from Eastridge Drive to Wedgewood Drive and included work on 66th and 70th streets.

Permanent pavement markings will be installed next spring.

The Welcome Back to East “O” event will include live KLIN radio remote broadcasts from 6 to 10 a.m. and 5 to 6 p.m. on October 21. Mayor Seng and those involved in the project will be interviewed, and businesses and organizations along East “O” Street will offer special give-aways and discounts to the public.

“This is an opportunity for the public to celebrate the completion of the project and to see how much easier it is to travel on the new East “O” Street,” said Linda Weaver Beacham, Project Manager with The Schemmer Associates. “We understand that the project caused some inconvenience, but the result is a street that can safely handle the increased traffic.”

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