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Detailing 180th Street expansion project in Elkhorn

ELKHORN, Neb. (WOWT) – Those who live, work, or visit south Elkhorn know how jammed up things get every day, in every direction, around 180th and Pacific.

“There are accidents literally every week here,” Custom Blinds and Design area marketing manager Jim Korff said. “I’ve personally swept up glass and bumpers in just the last two weeks.”

”We’re about tapped out of land to grow Elkhorn anymore, but we have to be able to support that infrastructure,” real estate agent, business owner, and Elkhorn resident Julie Tartaglia said. “As a business, in real estate, the West End and where I live is all right there, you have to be able to accommodate it, I know its uncomfortable, but sometimes you just have to do that and that’s the reality of it.”

Thursday night a group of more than 100 turned out to hear a presentation by Keep Omaha Moving on the project details and schedule.

Keeping ahead of the growth isn’t easy for Omaha City Manager Todd Pfitzer, and he said in this case, they are in the early stages. They need and want input before moving forward.

“Omaha has right now about a billion dollars of unmet capital needs, and like everything else in life, there’s a budget,” Pfitzer said. “We would love to say in 2025 we are going to do every project that we know of, we’d love to do that, but we don’t have the money.”

They detailed a multi-part proposal to solve problems in an already developed corridor.

Part one covers 180th Street and Harney, a little more than a half mile south of Dodge stretching a mile and a half down to Arbor. At the center of that, improvements to an east-west section of .4 of a mile of Pacific, repairs which will extend to 169th in the second part of the proposed project.

The challenges are greater than if they had been able to do this work years ago, but that’s not the reality of keeping up with growth in Dodge County.

“You know its much easier to widen a rural two-lane highway with not a lot around it than it is an urban street, no question,” Pfitzer said. “You’ve got more homes, more business, more traffic, more interruptions, more disruptions to people’s lives.”

When Omaha annexed Elkhorn 15 years ago, they knew they were getting a big tax base. Elkhorn’s per capita income is more than 40% higher than the rest of Nebraska. Omaha also knew they would face big road improvement projects like this one.

“We look at all the roads,” Pfitzer said. “We look at what all the volumes are, how fast are they growing, what are the crashes happening, what developments are coming in, we look at that every year, and this project rose to the top, clearly to the top in our [Capital Improvement Program] a couple years ago, and the decision was made; we have to move forward with this project, too many lives are being affected by waiting.”

If the project advances without issues, the final design activities would be completed no later than 2014, construction would begin in 2025 and the improvements would be completed by 2026.

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