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No plans to widen 27th Street for the next 30 years?

No I am not making that up.

If you take a peek at the proposed comprehensive plan — good ol’ LP Plan 2040, they call it at city hall — you will see nothing about widening one of Lincoln’s most famous (or was it infamous?) thoroughfares.

Really? Our city planners — in their infinite wisdom — do not believe there will be a need to widen 27th Street (particularly from South Street to Highway 2) in the NEXT 30 YEARS?

Just to make sure I wasn’t cornfused, I asked one of the chief architects behind the plan about this. David Cary of the planning department responded with this email:

When we began the process of updating the Comprehensive Plan, we used the existing approved 2030 Comprehensive Plan and Transportation Plan as the starting point acknowledging that there is a wealth of useful material from that plan that should be carried forward to the new plan. With that step taken, we started with the list of street projects from the 2030 Plan and immediately paired that down to bring the list more in-line with our financial means as this new plan must be financially constrained for Federal review requirements.

What this step also meant was that since there was no 27th Street project on the list of projects in the 2030 Plan, we did not start with a 27th Street project on the project list to consider. Also, our committee did not propose including this specific project during our process for consideration. What was discussed and is still included in the new draft plan is the 2+1 interior street widening program, of which South 27th Street was a part of when it was widened to 3 lanes in the past. This program to widen interior streets to 3 lanes has been identified as a priority program in the new 2040 Plan and will continue to be built out through the year 2025. This focus on the 2+1 program will complete the road segments, like 27th Street, that have been identified for a long time now as needing the turn lane installed, but as a project that has minimal impact on existing neighborhoods.

I believe that’s a long way of saying, “It wasn’t in the last comp plan update, so it’s not going to be in this one, either.”

Apparently, Councilman Jonathan Cook’s legacy of keeping 27th Street’s girth in check is safe. I’m pretty sure if the city ever tries to widen 27th through the Country Club, you’ll find Cook lying across the street in protest. This, despite our city Traffic Engineer Randy Hoskins having said five years ago that 27th should be widened. For that, the council tried to fire him. Instead, another guy got laid off and Hoskins got a new title.

Back then, Hoskins told me, “If you look at the growth and to have basically very few arterials to move traffic through the middle of town, that’s not realistic for a community of this size.”

And so the silliness continues. For at least 30 more years, it appears.


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