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City planning $11 million double roundabout at 14th and Superior

The city is buying up property along 14th Street from Superior Street to Alvo Road to make way for a nearly $11 million, two-mile road project whose centerpiece will be the city’s first double roundabout at 14th and Superior.

The project will be paid for with city dollars, according to Devin Biesecker, who works in engineering services for the city public works department. The project is in the final design phase and will be advertised for bids later this year, with construction slated to begin in one year.

Biesecker said the Nebraska Department of Roads also plans to build a new bridge over Interstate 80 on 14th Street later this year.

The city considered putting a traditional intersection at 14th and Superior, with dual left turns, two through lanes and a right turning lane — and the estimated cost was $10.2 million (in 2009). But city models indicated a roundabout would handle traffic better than a traditional intersection.

Roundabouts are considered much safer than regular intersections — but they can be pricier. The city has about 20 roundabouts now.

Biesecker said a large volume of traffic goes through the intersection and the nearby two-lane county road needs improvement.

“The area north of Superior along 14th has been growing making the need even greater for a project along north 14th Street,” he said in an e-mail. “Also, NDOR is willing to build a new bridge over I-80 in conjunction with this project. This project allows us to get a bridge built that meets the traffic needs of the area. The intersection needs improvement to handle the amount of traffic at this location.”

The city has roundabouts at the following intersections:
33rd and Sheridan Blvd.
40th and Sheridan Blvd.
W. Alvo and Tallgrass Pkwy
W. Alvo and Stonebrook Pkwy
Fallbrook Blvd and Tallgrass Pkwy
Fallbrook Blvd and Stonebrook Pkwy
Augusta Dr. and Troon Dr.
49th and Francis
Eiger and Andermatt
98th and Pine Lake
98th and Old Cheney
NW 13th and W. Fletcher
32nd and Zermatt Dr.
16th and Chloe Lane
Amaranth & SW 4th
Trinidad Rd. and Humphrey Av.
Glenneagle Ct and Augusta Dr.
21st and Folkways


Fire chief likely to leave

The paper says Fire Chief Niles Ford has been offered a job as a city manager in an Atlanta suburb, and I expect he’ll take it.

Niles Ford

Ford replaced former Fire Chief Mike Spadt — after several tumultuous years fraught with controversy over firetrucks that didn’t meet city specifications and clashes with Councilman Jon Camp. Ford stepped into a hot mess, but he handled it with self-deprecating, humble aplomb.

However, from the start, there were signs his family was not easily making the transition from its home in the South to Lincoln, Neb. I know his wife often visited relatives back home, where he has ailing relatives.

Just a year after Ford began working here, he applied for a job as fire chief in Austin, Texas, but didn’t get it. He also got caught up in a big controversy of his own in 2009, when the mayor and City Council began clashing over the cost of a minimum staffing provision that got inserted into the fire union contract.

Throughout the mess — during which I tried to sort out who made a $300,000 error — Ford remained silent, refusing to comment, being a good soldier for Beutler. I know he could have said a lot.

So I expect he’ll go (weirdly, if you go to the fire department website, it features a photo of assistant chief John Huff on the home page).

Ford seems to be a truly good person who had a monumental task when he took the job as fire chief here. I wish him well.

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