Local Businesses Should Not Be Sacrificed for 33rd and Cornhusker Project
The Railroad Transportation Safety District (RTSD) held its latest open house on the 33rd and Cornhusker Project on June 27 to gather input on the four transportation alternatives being considered for the project.
For background, the 33rd and Cornhusker project is intended to eliminate the hazardous rail crossings along Cornhusker Highway at 33rd Street, 35th and Adams streets, and 44th Street. The RTSD is considering four transportation alternatives to accomplish this goal.
The open house was held in response to the Lincoln City Council’s decision in February to postpone consideration of the Cornhusker subarea plan and corridor enhancement plan until the RTSD selected a final alternative. The subarea plan and corridor enhancement plan were put in place to look beyond the specific rail crossings to determine how best to use the broader area along the Cornhusker Highway corridor. Once the final alternative is selected, the goal is to incorporate the plans into the city’s Comprehensive Plan.
The RTSD initially designated Alternative 1D as the preferred alternative, but they were forced to go back to the drawing board after concerns arose over the number of business properties that would be taken to implement this option. Alternative 1D would utilize a fish hook shaped bridge across Cornhusker Highway, which would directly run through a number of business properties in the area. Chief among them is Virginia’s Travelers Café, a family-owned restaurant that has been a staple of the Lincoln community for over forty years. This alternative is also in the path of properties occupied by Speedway, Lincoln Tent & Awning, and Windstream. In total, approximately 15 businesses and up to five homes could be taken if Alternative 1D is chosen.
LIBA is strongly opposed to Alternative 1D not only because of the number of businesses that would be forced to close to make this alternative a reality, but also because it will cost $101.4 million to construct this option. LIBA also has significant concerns about Alternative 1E. This configuration provides an east-west connection, but it completely bisects a number of businesses’ properties and could isolate other businesses in the area. This alternative is also the most expensive to construct at $109.8 million.
The remaining two alternatives – Alternatives 1B and Alternative Modified Pel C – are the most promising options because they will have the least impact on local businesses and they are the least expensive to construct. The price tag for Alternative 1B is $75.3 million, roughly $15 million less than Alternative Modified Pel C, which is the next cheapest option at $89.1 million. The downside of these alternatives is they will not provide the desired east-west connection that are included in Alternative 1D and Alternative 1E.
LIBA supports the 33rd and Cornhusker project’s overall aim to eliminate hazardous rail crossings on Cornhusker Highway, but we believe a cost effective approach with minimal impact on local businesses should be prioritized.
If you missed the open house and would still like to weigh in on the future of the 33rd and Cornhusker project, you can submit comments online at www.33rdcornhusker.com/contact.