Public Works and Utilities Newsletter

Paving The Way For A Brighter Future By Educating, Engaging And Empowering Our Employees.

Engineering Services - a New Home, New Staff and New Excitement

by Roger Figard, City Engineer

In my 36 years with the City and 23-plus years as City Engineer, this past year ranks as one with significant change and excitement as we look to the future.

Engineering Services moved into the Municipal Services Center (MSC), 949 West Bond, as a new and permanent professional home for Design/Construction, Traffic Operations and Street Maintenance. We share this space with Watershed Management and Technology/Records Services, which has created an excellent work and information sharing environment.

Our West District Maintenance Section and Fleet Services also are settled in at the MSC, right next door at 901 West Bond. Our old home at 901 North 6th St. was sold in late fall to NEBCO.

New Street Maintenance Manager Ty Barger and Northeast District Supervisor Clay Engelman have ushered in significant new and needed processes for the future of Street Maintenance. A new Winter Operations Plan with improved de-icing protocols is already paying dividends in improved safety and service on our streets this winter. Also, paperless work orders, incident management and new training protocols are in place or nearing completion.

Lonnie Burklund, our new Traffic Engineer, and his staff have completed a much needed fiber and conduit inventory. He is also well on the way to developing a new Master Plan for the Traffic Operations Section, including upgrades to the City's outdated Central Signal System. The existing traffic signal system software is over 15 years old and is no longer supported. Additional Traffic Operations initiatives include a significant increase in the proposed use of roundabouts at the growing edges of our City to improve safety and operation and allow future expansion of our arterial streets with less disruption to the residents and road users.

With a newly formed right-of-way (ROW) construction section, supervised by Bob Simmering and managed by Scott Opfer, we can better manage and protect the public ROW that is so crucial to all of Public Works and Utilities as we operate water, wastewater, storm sewer, signals, fiber, streets and pedestrian systems.

The future is bright, the opportunities are here and we have the people, both new and tenured, to make it a reality.

Roger Figard, City Engineer

New Right-of-way Construction Section Created

Engineering Services is proud to announce a new way to better serve the community – a right-of-way construction section. This section will work with private construction and development projects to protect and maintain the valuable public and private utilities housed in the City right-of-way. This will allow for a more thorough inspection of private projects using the right-of-way to help ensure that City standards are maintained and that existing utilities are kept safe.

The "one stop" location for coordinating the projects is the Development Services Center (DSC) under the leadership of Bob Simmering. The section will be managed by Scott Opfer and led by Barney Blum, Harry Kroos, Greg Topil, Roger Ohlrich and Kent E. Evans. This team brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this exciting new venture for PWU. Those with right-of-way construction projects are encouraged to contact the DSC and discuss their needs with the new team.

Bob Simmering, Engineering Services Manager Bob Simmering, Engineering Services Manager

Strong Lincs

There Is No ‘Division’ Among Our Divisions.

- Miki Esposito

PWU Director Miki Esposito is pleased to announce the Strong Linc Award recipients for the workplace principle of loyalty. Please congratulate these Strong Lincs for their valued service.

Larry Jochum (Engineering Services)
Larry has been with the City over 35 years. For a good percentage of that time, Larry has been the primary/only traffic signal timing technician. Larry works nearly every Husker football Saturday, ensuring traffic gets to and from the stadium. Larry also is the primary responder when a fatal crash occurs. He investigates the incident to determine areas of potential liability for the City.
Bruce Briney (Engineering Services)
Bruce has over 35 years of experience with the City. He has moved to a number of different positions within Engineering Services and is always willing to go to the area where he is most needed. His flexibility and knowledge of many facets of the Division have made him a valuable resource.
Doug Schwartz (Engineering Services)
Doug has been with the City over 40 years. Doug has spent his time within the Signing and Marking Section and brings a wealth of knowledge of the duties and history in that area. He also looks for innovative solutions to problems that arise.
Lane Loschen and Steve Groesser (Solid Waste)
The loyalty of Lane and Steve to the Solid Waste Composting facility shows in the high-end quality product, which is appreciated by residents and landscape contractors. Their diligent work involves mixing materials, adding moisture and turning that mix into a life-giving product. The effort these individuals devote often goes unnoticed, but their dedication shows in the green lawns and the lush gardens many enjoy. Thank you to Lane and Steve for their steadfast approach to the compost facility.
Brian Praeuner (StarTran)
Brian is always willing to take on new assignments and help out other team members whenever they have a need. Brian cares about the success of StarTran, and it shows in his work.
Rick Scholl (Street Maintenance)
Rick exemplifies commitment to his job and constantly demonstrates a willingness to accept any challenge. He serves as a backup to the Fleet Services Garage Supervisor. On one particular occasion, Rick was asked to fill in for an extended period during winter preparation, a very demanding task, even for a seasoned veteran. Not only did Rick do an excellent job of managing normal daily shop operations, he also scheduled and oversaw all preseason snow removal equipment service, installation and testing.

The next workplace principle will focus on excellence. Nominations are due to Miki by Friday, March 20.

A Farewell Note

Best wishes to our Public Works and Utilities colleague on her retirement from City employment. We appreciate her service to our community. May you find success in all your future endeavors.

Pam Gadeken
Administration – 36 years

In-house First Aid CPR/AED Training Available

National Safety Council

PWU has begun an in-house First-Aid CPR/AED training program at a reduced cost to the City. Instructors for the classes are Compliance Division employees Dave Thurber and Gerardo Martinez, both certified in First-Aid CPR /AED by the National Safety Council. Employees will be certified for three years. Training is on a voluntary basis.

Supervisors may register employees and review training data on the City Intralinc.

StarTran Passes on Sale at Half Price

City of Lincoln employees may purchase their StarTran 31-Consecutive Day Pass at half price for ONLY $8.50, through pre-tax payroll deduction. This is a great way to go green and save some green. Find the enrollment form PDF on the Intralinc's "Employee's Self-Service" for City employees.

StarTran Passes

Upcoming Events

Wednesday and Thursday
March 25 and 26
Earth Wellness Festival
Southeast Community College
Thursday, March 26
Spring Contractor Meeting
Firefighters Hall
Monday through Friday
April 6 through 10
Nebraska Transit Week
Wednesday, April 8
Bike UNL Event
Saturday, April 11
University of Nebraska Red - White Spring Game
Big Red Express Shuttle Service
Saturday and Sunday
April 11 and 12
16th annual StarTran "Stuff the Bus" for Friendship Home
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wal-Mart and Sam's Club locations
Saturday, April 18
StarTran Bus Roadeo
Pinnacle Bank Arena
Festival Parking Lot
8 a.m.
Wednesday, April 29
Spring Safety Meeting
Firefighters Hall

More PWU Events...

Thank You

Thank you to all local contractors and PWU crews for your snow removal efforts each season! Your hard work and dedication help keep Lincoln streets safe. PWU crews have also done an exceptional job with pothole repairs.

Complying With The Clean Water Act

The City of Lincoln participates in the federally mandated National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program as a result of the 1972 Clean Water Act. The goals of the program are "swimmable, fishable, and drinkable waters." Numerous cities treat water from rivers and reservoirs for use in their municipalities. The more pollutants in these waters, the more expensive the water treatment.

Here are some examples of how PWU divisions comply with the NPDES program:

Solid Waste Management controls leachate runoff water from the landfill locations and properly stores and disposes of hazardous materials.

Obtaining a sample of leachate water Obtaining a sample of leachate water

Wastewater maintains water quality standards for processed sewage discharges from treatment facilities, which are cleaner than what is already in Salt Creek.

Taking a sample of treated wastewater discharge to Salt Creek Taking a sample of treated wastewater discharge to Salt Creek

Water Production and Distribution treats water pumped from wells adjacent to the Platte River for consumption. In order to meet water quality standards, the City is currently working to modify the existing stormwater system. This work will include construction of dechlorination facilities to treat residual water before being discharged to a local tributary.

Engineering Services requires all contractors to comply with construction site runoff standards regarding sediment and erosion control. This includes proper fuel storage, containment of waste materials and frequent inspections.

Construction oversight Construction oversight

Street Maintenance Operations conducts a routine street sweeping program and inspects and maintains the entire storm drain system. All maintenance yards for PWU must store hazardous material inside.

Watershed Management implements a construction site runoff program, and reports the City's progress in meeting NPDES goals to the State of Nebraska.

PWU employees working "behind the scenes" help the City to be compliant. Without the efforts made by PWU employees, our local waterways would be less "swimmable, fishable, and drinkable."

For more information on the City's NPDES program, visit npdes).

Street crew from early 1900s

City of Lincoln Street Sweeping Program

Since 1915, if not earlier, street sweeping has been an integral part of street maintenance operations. A street sweeping program is required to maintain our Federal Clean Water Act permit, which was first issued in 2002.

In accordance with the Act and to prevent debris from entering the storm water drainage systems, residential streets are swept three times a year. Arterial streets are swept nightly every 15 days, and business districts are swept nightly every four days. In 2013-2014, 2,975 tons of debris was collected and transported to the landfill.

Without the removal of debris, blocked stormwater inlets can lead to unnecessary flooding during heavy rains. With the removal of debris, the amount of pollutants in the stream system is also reduced significantly. The program helps keep travel on Lincoln streets clean and safe.

The fleet includes six units with seven operators. The cost of one new street sweeper is about $275,000. The entire sanitation budget, not limited to street sweeping, totals $1.5 million.

In a 1927 annual report, the Street Department tally includes "pavement swept by Pan Men." The number of blocks swept was? 19,890! The best and most qualified guess is that the work was done by broom-and-dust-Pan Men.

Thank you, Ed Zimmer, for the historical information!

"P" Street Stormwater Improvements

The "P" Street Stormwater Improvements are part of a complete redesign of the streetscape, parking and public spaces along "P" Street from 11th Street to Centennial Mall and on 14th Street from "O" to "Q" streets. Stormwater management was integrated into the green space plan, which includes an extensive plan for tree planting, new lighting, signage, pedestrian friendly areas, outdoor dining space and public art displays.

Conceptual image Conceptual image

Stormwater Best Management Practices (BMP) for this area include the following:

Permeable pavers
  • Permeable pavement allows water to soak into the soil rather than runoff.
  • Rain gardens capture and filter stormwater before discharging into the storm drain system.

These BMPs are designed to catch 90 percent of the average storm's runoff water that falls on the streets and sidewalks in the "P" Street corridor. The BMPs blend into the natural construction of the area, and you may not notice them unless you look for them. Permeable pavers in a sidewalk are similar in shape and size to bricks and have gaps between them that are filled with crushed rock. Rain gardens in the project look like a depressed area of ground next to the street filled with plants and wood mulch. If you are downtown on "P" Street, see if you can spot these stormwater BMPs.

All available issues

June/July 2013 PDF 

  • Respect And Civility At Work
  • City Resources
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • A Farewell Note...
  • Condolences to Jeff Grove's Friends and Family
  • Service Awards
  • Something For The Kids: Dig Into Reading
  • Stormwater Runoff
  • Mayor's Award of Excellence for April
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – City Council Approves Drought Rates
  • Water Conservation Poster Contest Winners
  • Flashing Yellow Arrows

April/May 2013 PDF 

  • Spring is Here!
  • Davis to Serve as StarTran Transit Manager
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • Whisenhunt Presented Mayor's Award of Excellence for January
  • A Farewell Note...
  • Morris Receives March Award of Excellence
  • Employee Training and Recognition Event
  • Golden Shovel and Platinum Pen Awards
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – Managing the Cost of Electrical Power
  • Summer Water Restrictions Again Possible

February/March 2013 PDF 

  • Director's Corner: Laying the Groundwork
  • Call Before You Dig
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • A Farewell Note...
  • Condolences to Warren Wondercheck's Friends and Family
  • 2013 Home & Garden Show
  • Welcome Frank Uhlarik!
  • StarTran Stuff the Bus
  • StarTran 31-Consecutive Day Bus Pass Has New Lower Price!
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – Funding Utility Services
  • Lincoln's Biosolids Land Application Program: 20 Years Old and Going Strong
  • PWU Recognized at NWEA Conference

December 2012 / January 2013 PDF 

  • Lincoln Water System Utility Supervisors Vital to Asset Management
  • StarTran 2012 Big Red Express
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • Brian Dittmann and Steve Titus are Retiring!
  • PWU Teams Up With Lincoln Public School Students
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – Engineering Services
  • Municipal Services Center Continues Renovations
  • PWU Praised for Cooperative Efforts

October/November 2012 PDF 

  • Director's Corner: We Endure
  • City of Lincoln Wellness Program
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • A Farewell Note...
  • September Mayor's Award of Excellence
  • The Drought of 2012
  • Prepping for Snow
  • Wellness Initiatives
  • StarTran Serves 2,000,000 Riders

August/September 2012 PDF 

  • Public Works and Utilities Runs Defense
  • VoIP
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • Leadership Link Manager of the Year
  • July Mayor's Award of Excellence
  • Taylor Buss: Public Works and Utilities Ambassador
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – Asset Management: A Commitment to a Sustainable Community
  • Wastewater FROGs
  • StarTran Receives Environmental Leadership Award

June/July 2012 PDF 

  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – "Color of Money"
  • Sidewalks: A Change in Responsibilities
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • John Ottoson is Retiring!
  • Kennedy Receives Mayor's Award of Excellence
  • Public Works Day Celebrated During Waterfest
  • 2011 Mayor's Award of Excellence Honorable Mention: Jose Regueira
  • June is National Safety Month
  • Safety is Director's Top Priority
  • Compost Program Nearing Anniversary
  • Water Conservation Poster Contest Winners

April/May 2012 PDF 

  • Director's Corner: Who We Are
  • E-mail "Alerts"
  • National Public Works Week
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • Service Awards
  • February Mayor's Award of Excellence
  • PWU Active in Sustainability Events
  • Stuff the Bus
  • Double Roundabout Wins Prestigious ACEC Honor Award
  • 56th and Elkcrest Water Main Breaks
  • Clean Water Program
  • Golden Shovel Award

February/March 2012 PDF 

  • PWU Director Esposito Appoints Marketing Committee
  • Snow Removal Effort Receives Multiple Compliments
  • Employee Kudos!
  • Terry Ullsperger Receives Award From HBAL
  • 2012 Home & Garden Show
  • StarTran Sees 20 Percent Increase in Ridership Over Two Years
  • City Has Filled More Than 7,000 Potholes This Winter
  • We're Listening: Why does it take so long to clear my cul-de-sac?

Marketing Committee Members

*Newsletter Committee Member

Kitty Elliott
Clay Engelman
*Kris Humphrey
Lance Loschen
Kyle Williams
*Meagan Pratt
Michelle Zuhlke
Rock Krzycki
Gene Hanlon
*Michele Abendroth