The Wide, Wide World of Lincoln’s Newest Streets

April 30, 2008 at 1:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I am curious what other Lincolnites think about the width of Lincoln’s newest arterial streets. Take the newest section of Pioneers Boulevard between (approximately) 74th and 84th Streets. When I drive on that section of road I feel like I’m on an expressway. The road is wide, the lanes are wide, and there is that gigantic stretch of useless pavement in the middle that is ostensibly for left turns, but in reality is mostly used to store excess sand and garbage.

I have studied bits and pieces of traffic engineering and transportation planning so I know the basic reasons folks in those fields will give for those features. They’ll cite safety, first and foremost, but they will also talk about traffic efficiencies, vehicle widths, and so on.

As Lincoln struggles to find the cash to maintain its roads and build new ones, I think this is a very relevant topic. Is Lincoln building its new roads too extravagantly, and thus wasting cash we could put to other purposes? Or are we building wisely and safely, planning for future capacity needs, preventing ourselves from having to modify or redo our major roads ten years from now?

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The Comments

Carnac April 30, 2008 at 2:30pm

Several years ago I asked a few of the engineers from the city of Lincoln why they continued to increase the width of the major arterials.  The common response was “do it right the first time.”  Of course, they could only afford to “do it right” to a few intersections while they couldn’t afford to resurface other streets.  So, there were huge 6-7 lane intersections that fed into and from 2 lane roads.  (Pine Lake and Yankee Hill come to mind.) 

To this day I still wonder if this is practical, but I’ve been wrong before…

Fletch April 30, 2008 at 2:40pm

I think it’s practical, if you look back at what they’ve historically done. They paved 2 lanes of Old Cheney, and had to rip it all out when they went to 4 lanes. Ditto with much of Pine Lake, and S 27th and S 40th. I always figured when they were ready to pave, they should pave a pair of lanes that would eventually be half of the four they would want, and not just rip it out.

Old Cheney didn’t last 10 years between 2 lanes and 4 lanes. I don’t recall the exact time. I agree with doing it right the first time. Plus, when they get to the other roads like in Carnac’s example, they can still keep the intersections open.

Chuck April 30, 2008 at 6:27pm

I’d be in favor of building more excess capacity than they are already. How much extra money does it really cost to pave an extra lane now, when the road is already under construction? Building in excess capacity now is relatively cheap, especially when compared to the cost and inconvenience of having to retrofit later.

Moses April 30, 2008 at 7:10pm

If they had used this philosophy back when….South 13th and South 27th would be usuable roadways instead of the mess they now are.

Mr. Wilson April 30, 2008 at 7:22pm

That’s partially true. The problem in many older parts of the city isn’t that the roads weren’t built to handle future capacity. It’s that the right-of-way isn’t wide enough to support the road we could use today. Or in some cases the right-of-way is sufficient, but the political will is not.

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