City readies road plans

January 25, 2019 GMT

Columbus residents on Monday, Feb. 4, will have the opportunity to voice their thoughts regarding the city’s proposed 1- and 6-Year Roads Plan.

The plan is submitted by municipalities around the state annually to the Nebraska Department of Transportation to be eligible for maximum amounts of state and federal funding, City Engineer Rick Bogus said Thursday afternoon.

This year’s proposed one-year plan consists of 13 projects valued at just under $31 million. Major projects listed in the one-year plan include: Finalizing details of the Third Avenue viaduct and completing the 18th Avenue pedestrian walkway; starting the 12th Avenue Viaduct with bids going out Feb. 7; repaving a section of 15th Street from 27th-33rd Avenue; roadwork along 48th Avenue from 38th Street to Lost Creek Parkway; roadwork spanning along Third Avenue from Eighth Street to South Third Street; and phase one of the Power House Park Trail.

“We received a grant from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission that is for a trail that would be on the north side of Lost Creek Parkway from 33rd Avenue to 18th Avenue,” Bogus said of the project, adding that it’s expected to be completed at some point this year.

Bogus noted the approximately $31 million price tag sounds alarming, however, it’s not completely indicative of the actual dollar amount being shoveled out for construction costs relating to projects.

“It doesn’t mean that we are actually going to do $31 million of projects in 2019,” the city engineer said. “Because, like I said, on (something like) the Third Avenue viaduct, most of that project is done but it still has to be represented (on the one-year plan). The biggest thing to take away from this is that the City of Columbus isn’t doing $30.9 million worth of construction in 2019. That would break the bank.”

The city’s proposed six-year plan calls for 32 projects being completed totaling $57.2 million, Bogus said, adding that as with the one-year plan, the eye-popping figure isn’t completely reflective of actual spending amounts.

“These are projects that are out there that could be done anytime between two years from now, and many years from now,” Bogus said, adding that some projects from this year’s one-year and six-year plans may be rotated and rearranged depending on housing and other immediate developments. That could make some projects an immediate priority over others, he said.

Columbus Mayor Jim Bulkley during a previous interview with the Telegram also noted the importance of addressing and mapping out what the city’s road needs are currently, and what they will be down the road.

“Every year our staff just identifies areas that have to be repaired (locally), and this is how we start and move forward with the process,” he said. “It’s hard to put an exact date on these, but we just know that it will happen sometime in the future.”

Bogus said that – as indicated – the one-year road plan projects generally are completed in a more timely fashion. The six-year plan is far more subject to change, added.

“There are a lot of projects on that six-year plan – 32, a lot of things on there that come into play,” he said. “And a lot of them (proposed projects) have been on there for a number of years. Theoretically, it would be great to say we will get (all) of it done in six years, but that isn’t realistic. There are projects on the six-year plan that have been on there for a couple of decades.”

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.