The city will begin building a controversial $11 million roundabout and other improvements to the intersection of 14th and Superior on Oct. 11.
The night before, citizens are invited to a “public meeting” about the project at the Belmont Recreation Center. However, if you’ve ever been to one of these meetings, you know that there is no formal presentation and it is really an open house, where there are pretty pictures of the project and people come and go as they wish, and can ask questions of the city employees and consultants. I’ve noticed over the years that the city never, EVER holds a true “town hall meeting” or true public meeting where there’s a presentation and then people can ask questions in a public fashion.
I imagine some PR genius told them that’s a good way to keep the crowd quiet and in control.
So if you’re interested in learning more about the project — which is much more than just a roundabout, but also a widening of 14th from two lanes to four north of Superior and reconstruction of the 14th Street bridge over Interstate 80 — go to the meeting or check out this website. But don’t expect to be able to harangue any public officials about the wisdom of the project at the meeting — unless you want to corner one of them one-on-one. And in any case, I doubt there’s anything you can say that will prevent the project from going forward the next morning — meaning 14th Street will have road closures from then on.
The I-80 bridge is scheduled to open in August 2012, and the roundabout is scheduled to open in November 2012. The entire project is expected to be completed in May 2013.
Lincoln resident Kolleen Krikac was surprised to hear construction will begin soon when concerned residents asked for a meeting months ago to discuss the project.
“How is it possible to have a meeting scheduled for the night before construction is to begin?” she said in an email to city officials. “This appears to be a sneaky way to pass it under the radar of the citizens of Lincoln, especially those whom it will most affect. The vast majority of people who live near this intersection are opposed to it and want their concerns to be heard.”
She said 99 percent of the people in her neighborhood signed a petition opposing the roundabout.
Personally, I have no problem with roundabouts. In fact, I like them. I use the one at 33rd and Sheridan Boulevard almost every day. However, it does not work under certain circumstances — primarily in the morning before school, when tons of traffic is coming from the south, headed east and north to Southeast High School. That allows the people coming from the west to jump in much more often then the huge line of cars to the south. Go and watch if you don’t believe me. I imagine the 14th and Superior situation could create a similar rush-hour snarl.
But the city (and state) is in love with roundabouts and this project is going to happen. The meeting is at the Belmont rec center, 1234 Judson St., and the time has been changed to 6 to 8 p.m.