mulberry filofax businesses prepare for closure of 168th Street
A two lane road is designed to handle 13,000 15,000 a day and we’re about double that,” Omaha city engineer Todd Pfitzer said.
Construction will begin in February, and 168th Street will completely shut down between Dodge and Maple starting on March 1st. The project will expand the stretch to two lanes in each direction and a center left turn lane.
The intersection of 168th and Blondo will also undergo reconstruction, including two left turn lanes and a dedicated right turn lane. A portion of Blondo Street at 168th will shut down entirely during construction.
“We have made every effort to minimize that closure on Blondo and those businesses will have access at all times from one direction or the other through the neighborhoods,” Pfitzer said.
Initially, the project was planned to take place in phases over multiple years. Now, the work should be complete by December 2018. A change order approved by Omaha’s City Council Tuesday also reduced the amount of time Blondo Street would be completely closed.
One lane of east to west traffic on Blondo should now re open by mid summer, but area business owners aren’t excited to see such a busy intersection closed for any amount of time.
“We think Blondo being the street up north here, would’ve have been nice to be open 100% of the time,” Kevin Irish, owner of Paw Spa pet resort, said.
The change order, which will allow lanes of Blondo Street to re open this summer is costing an additional $260,000. The total project cost is around $10 million.
City engineer Todd Pfitzer said the complete shutdown will save money in the long run, as opposed to doing the project in phases.
“It is actually turning out to be far cheaper to do it in one year because the contractor can go in and just work. They don’t have to route traffic, they don’t have to set up barricades and move them throughout the process,” Pfitzer said.
A public open house Wednesday sought to provide residents and business owners with answers to questions about construction.
Many people who live in the area question how they will get around in 2018.
“It’s going to cause a lot of traffic problems, and we’re all trying to figure out how we’re going to get back and forth,” Kerry Depew said.
Business owners just hope the traffic headaches don’t hurt their bottom lines too.
“Nine months for a small business is a big time. I think the long term, it’s wonderful. We’re all excited about it. We’re going to put a Scooter’s Coffee right next to us. They’ve waited to build until the project’s done,” Irish said.