Thursday, May 27


Fifth Street Road focus of Lincoln and Logan County infrastructure plans

Anticipated development to the west presses officials

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[MAY 27, 2004]  City and county officials are planning ahead, anticipating both commercial and residential growth to the west of Lincoln. In preparation for those developments, officials have been looking hard at infrastructure in the area.

The county has had the Fifth Street Road on their agenda for a number of years, and it is now their top project. They planned to redo Fifth Street for a 10-mile stretch from Lincoln Parkway to the New Holland-Middletown blacktop. Federal funding has fallen far shorter than anticipated and may alter those plans. The county received word last month that they are eligible to receive $800,000 in federal funds designated specifically for that project. The project was first estimated at $15 million to $19 million.

The county is approaching the planning for the road in two phases, though the work phase will be completed all at once. Assistant county engineer Bret Aukamp said that the engineering for the western five-mile section is completed. They are waiting for funding to complete the engineering on the eastern portion, and then work can begin.

County Board Chairman Dale Voyles and county engineer Tom Hickman addressed the Lincoln streets and alleys committee earlier this month. The county is asking the city to finance the city's portion of the Fifth Street Road renovation. It is a one-mile section of Fifth Street between Lincoln Parkway and Connolly Road. The road will become three lanes wide to support the increase and type of traffic that is expected with the new developments in the area. That work is estimated at $3.4 million.

The city is still recovering from tight financial times. The issue was laid on the table for discussion for the second time at Tuesday evening's workshop. The amount of $1.4 million in funding was identified as attainable. However, that leaves a $2 million gap, Alderman Crane said.

During the brainstorming session Mayor Beth Davis said she thought that new infrastructure sales tax may provide some funds. Last month was the first time these funds began coming in, and they were much higher than anticipated.


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If the county is able to roll the financing over until the new fiscal 2006 year, the city will probably be able to budget it, Steve Fuhrer suggested. The mayor, streets chairman Derrick Crane, Alderman Benny Huskins and others agreed to that.

Crane clearly felt that the current city road plans should come first this year. "We still have a lot of folks here in the city that have been waiting several years to have their streets taken care of and some other issues," Alderman Crane said.

Alderman Fuhrer voiced that he felt the infrastructure sales tax could be divided, with some for city streets and some toward projects that help promote growth.

Marty Neitzel suggested that if the city had a grinder, they would be able to do city streets cheaper and use those funds on a project like this.

Grant Eaton from Environmental Management Corporation asked and was granted permission to search out a possible source of funding for the project.

Mayor Davis said that the city will look at the possibility of running sewer lines out west at the same time.

In the meantime, Streets Department Superintendent Tracy Jackson has been in touch with Bob Shelley and Bill Melton, who will advise him on how to temporarily provide additional width that Fifth Street needs at this time. He said that millings from the downtown street renovations will be used on the sides of Fifth Street, widening it by two feet on each side.

[Jan Youngquist]

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