PLATTSMOUTH – The creation of limited access at the intersection of U.S. Highway 75 and First Avenue/Westside Drive appears to be moving ahead.
A request for more study on the manner did not receive majority votes at Monday’s Plattsmouth City Council meeting.
“It’s going to move forward,” Mayor R. Paul Lambert said of the project. “It’s pretty much done (discussion).”
The state is in the process of widening U.S. Highway 75 to four lanes from Plattsmouth’s Avenue B to Murray Road (and no doubt further south later on).
State officials have repeatedly rejected calls for turn signals at the highway’s intersection with First Avenue/Westside Drive, the council members were told.
Instead, a proposal has been made creating a median at the intersection prohibiting vehicles on the First Avenue/Westside Drive from turning left onto the highway, only to the right. Vehicles heading north on the highway, however, could turn left onto Westside Drive. Vehicles heading south on the highway could turn left onto First Avenue.
Steve Willey, president and partner of Westside Development, told the council of his concern that such restrictions could impact future economic growth in that area.
“The importance of Highway 75 to the economic well-being of Plattsmouth cannot be overstated,” Willey read from a prepared letter. “The fact that the state wants to go through the city instead of around it brings a unique opportunity.”
The added traffic and visibility the widened highway would bring would help existing businesses that much more, while encouraging new businesses there, Willey said.
“Visibility and convenient access are essential to success, one without the other just doesn’t get the job done,” he said.
With proper design, safety issues could be addressed, he said, urging the council to review this issue further.
Councilman Terry Kerns took him up on that and requested a three-member council committee be formed for further study with a recommendation back in two months or so.
“I feel we haven’t done our due diligence on this,” he said. “Our stakeholders out there deserve our best effort. We’re just asking for a possible change.”
Such a study would not delay construction, he added.
“We owe it to our stakeholders and the citizens,” Kerns said.
His proposal did not receive a majority vote, including an opposing vote from Lambert, voting for Councilman Doug Derby, who was absent. Lambert’s vote made it 4 to 4.
In support of the study were Steve Riese, Jeanie Brookhouser, Wanda Wiemer and Kerns. Those in opposition were Cheryl Grimshaw, Sean Minahan, John Porter and Lambert.
Residents that he talked to said the intersection was dangerous, Lambert said.
“That’s what I heard from them,” he said.
Councilwoman Cheryl Grimshaw, who opposed the study suggestion, said, “We’re not restricting traffic completely. It will allow for left turns.”
Two years ago, the city and the state signed a cost-sharing agreement concerning the highway widening project from Avenue B to the southern city limits, Lambert said. The city will pay $1.3 million in this agreement, he said.
If highway funds are available, bid letting could occur in mid-2019, City Administrator Ervin Portis said.