Long-term solution to wait for roundabout review
Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that the City will make inexpensive, short-term changes to improve traffic flow at the intersecting roadways at 14th Street, Warlick Boulevard and Old Cheney Road. But he said more permanent changes will be delayed until the City completes a review of roundabout safety and performance.
The City worked closely with the Nebraska Department of roads on the changes to be implemented over the next few months. The changes include the following:
- Replacing the existing stop signs on southbound 14th with yield signs
- Narrowing northbound Warlick Boulevard to a single lane
- Remove the yield sign on northbound 14th
- Enhancing the signal timing along the Old Cheney intersections at 16th Street, 14th Street and Warlick Boulevard
- Adding a second left-turn lane on southbound 16th at Old Cheney
“The long-range traffic analysis shows that improvements to this area are vitally important, even with the completion of the South Beltway,” Beulter said. “But our short-term fix gives us additional time to develop additional information and ensure the wisest long-term solution for the community.”
In June 2012, the City initiated its first intersection design competition among three firms – Schemmer Associates, FHU and HDR. The goal was to encourage creativity and a wide range of options for the area. The Mayor said the firms presented three excellent alternatives, and the short-term solutions to be implemented are based Schemmer Associates’ proposal. But, he said, cost was a factor. The City Council has approved a budget of $10 million for the project, and the proposals ranged in price from $16 million to $21 million..
Two of the submissions recommended multiple-lane roundabouts. “While Lincoln’s roundabouts have proven cost effective and more efficient in moving traffic, crashes at the multiple-lane 14th and Superior roundabout have increased,” Beutler said. “We decided to wait and see whether drivers would adapt to the 14th and Superior roundabout before we determined which design to select for 14th and Warlick.”
Since the opening of the roundabout in August 2012, injury crashes are down 87 percent and overall damages have been reduced 43 percent, but the number of crashes continues to be up. In May, Mayor ordered the Public Works and Utilities Department to conduct an independent review of the 14th and Superior roundabout to determine if improvements are needed. MTJ Engineering expects to have its work completed by September but will need additional time for analysis.
“As Mayor, the community counts on me to make sensible and fiscally responsible decisions,” Beutler said. “They want me to make the right choice over the quick choice. At this point, the quick choice is to pick a design before we have all the facts. The right choice is to apply what we have learned from the study of 14th and Superior. The information could be the difference between money well spent and money spent on a solution that does not solve all of our problem. In the meantime, we will do our best to make the situation a little bit better for the people who travel the 14th and Warlick intersection every day.”