Nearly 15 years after widening a crowded stretch of 84th Street was first proposed, Papillion is finally zeroing in on a start date for the $10.5 million project.
After a month of negotiations, including eminent domain proceedings against five property owners to obtain easements and public rights of way, the city is close to wrapping up the complex planning and design stages for the long-awaited road construction.
“This is the most significant road project in Papillion since Highway 370 was done through here in 2000,” City Engineer Jeffrey Thompson said.
The land and easement acquisitions involved 32 properties needed to widen and reconfigure the 1.8-mile strip of 84th Street from Cedardale Road to Capehart Road targeted for improvements.
The process spanned two years and cost more than $900,000, including $225,000 in compensation for eight properties seized through eminent domain.
With the land negotiations nearly finished, barring any appeals, the federal government is expected release its portion of project funding in September. City officials expect the Nebraska Department of Roads to seek construction bids in October.
“If the bids come in where we think they are, within budget, we can start construction in the spring of 2014,” City Administrator Dan Hoins said at a July 16 City Council meeting.
If this winter is mild, the first phase of improvements could actually start in late December or January, Thompson said.
In 2007, the federal government pledged to fund 80 percent of the then-$7.9 million widening. The remaining 20 percent would be paid by Papillion, Sarpy County and the Shadow Lake Sanitary and Improvement District.
Higher construction costs and more exact estimates now have the cost pegged closer to $10.5 million, Thompson said.
Total construction time would be about a year and a half, with the goal of finishing sometime in fall 2015, he said.
Work would progress in two phases. Multiple detours will be needed to route drivers — including ambulances — around closed roads and provide access into and out of Midlands Hospital and subdivisions such as Shadow Lake and Barrington Place, which will be right in the midst of construction zones.
Hoins and Mayor David Black said that after years of planning and delays, it's a relief to inch closer to breaking out the hard hats and orange cones.
The intersection of 84th Street and Highway 370 is one of the busiest, most accident-plagued intersections in Papillion, and the area is booming with new development, including the construction of the $19 million Midlands Place shopping center. By 2035, traffic studies project 21,000 vehicles per day driving on that stretch of 84th Street.
“This is a very much needed, longtime project,” Hoins said.
At the July 16 meeting, Hoins and the mayor both reminded council members that the federal government first approved funding for the project in 2007.
“It was a shovel-ready project back then,” Black said.
The project was actually supposed to start in the late 1990s but was pushed back in favor of work on Highway 370.
Thompson chalked up the recent delays to the lengthy approval process required for road projects that include federal, state and local partners, and a mandate from the Federal Highway Administration that the State Roads Department retool its oversight of federally funded projects.
“Federal aid projects take five to seven years,” Thompson said. “That's the reality of it. It's a long, drawn-out process.”
Design plans call for:
» 84th Street to be widened from two lanes to three from Capehart Road to south of Schram Road. A center turn lane will be added and a paved 10-foot-wide bike trail will be built on the east side of 84th Street.
» 84th Street to be widened from three lanes to four from Schram Road to Cedardale Road.
» The addition of a raised median and left and right turn lanes for the north and south portions of the 84th Street and Gold Coast Road intersection and the north and south sections of the 84th Street and Highway 370 intersection.
» A bike trail on the east side and a sidewalk on the west side of 84th Street.
» A new traffic signal for the 84th Street and Gold Coast Road intersection; a new traffic signal at the Highway 370 intersection to accommodate the new lanes; and the reconstruction of Gold Coast Road east and west of its intersection with 84th Street.
» Midlands Hospital will eventually move its main entrance from 84th Street to Gold Coast Road, across from the new King Drive intersection.