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July 7, 2011


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

by Deena Winter

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.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. T4acres
    Jul 7 2011

    Deena – I agree with the approach as explained by Mr. Cary at this time. All things considered, the South 27th Street bottleneck should not be anywhere near the top of this city’s priority list in this year of 2011. He is describing a long range plan, and the overall outlook is that the rapid growth that we have come to expect as normal circumstance over these last many years has now slowed dramatically, if not ended entirely. There is nothing to indicate that Lincoln will experience continued growth in the coming years. Given that, the source of your irritation is really not a pressing, “must have” need for this city right now. If this situation degrades dramatically in the future, City Hall will undoubtedly be able to rearrange priorities to get the necessary work done. For now, the top priority of this city should be to pay the bills that have already been incurred before running up any new ones. “Grand Plans” that are not economically feasible would be a disservice to the community at this time. Let’s focus on any of the other semi-urgent problems that Lincoln has on the table right now. We can build expressways a few years from now if they are merited and sustainable.

    By the way, my business is in the road construction industry. The statement above is merely my opinion, and you and everyone else are entitled to an opposing view.

    • Jul 8 2011

      I’m not saying it’s something that needs to be done right now either, but I think it’s very odd that the city is too afraid to even put it in their 30-year plan. Do they really think it won’t need widening in 30 years? Nonsense.

  2. paul mike grieger
    Jul 8 2011

    the former governor of illinois has been found found guilty of political corruption.
    I believe that the number of convicted governor’s is 5 since 1950.
    The only difference between Illinois and Lincoln politics is the the size of the project.

    the illinois tollway system has been paid off for many years,yet the tolls continue.

    I believe the city of lincoln will try to use that new law 1/2 cent sales tax to bond new road building projects ie. the east and south bypass

    I heard our mayor say how important it, (the bypass) is during the liba debate.

    respectfully submitted,

  3. Jeff Poley
    Jul 8 2011


    I use 27th Street multiple times during the day and I have to admit, that the 15 minute rush hour in Lincoln can get a little irritating now and then. Rush hour traffic on 27th between South and Highway 2 isn’t nearly as irritating as the bottle-neck between “S” Street and “O” Street. I may have a warped sense of values, tho, since we moved to Lincoln from Washington, DC, where I’ve been stuck in traffic for periods exceeding eight hours. Lincoln’s traffic “problems” seem a little trifling by comparison.

    All that said, I’m willing to put up with a little aggravation for a few minutes a day to enjoy the esthetic value of that much maligned stretch of 27th Street. To me, tearing all those trees out of there to be replaced with concrete isn’t a good trade-off. At least when traffic is crawling along, I can enjoy the view.


  4. Jane Kinsey
    Jul 8 2011

    Good ole’ Lincoln never plans ahead properly. 27th Street is a mess, especially the very northern part.—-commercial city.

  5. Dan Bretta
    Jul 8 2011

    How do you even widen that stretch? Seems like many of the houses are already very close to the street.


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