16th Street

In July crews converted a portion of 16th Street on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus to two-way traffic and replaced the signals with four-way stop signs. The change has made it difficult for drivers to move quickly through campus.

ERIC GREGORY, Journal Star file photo

It's a nightmare on 16th Street -- at least for drivers.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the city have replaced stoplights with four-way stop signs on 16th Street intersections inside UNL's City Campus.

So pedestrians have the right-of-way at all times and cars sit at the four-way stop signs, sometimes for a long time. Occasionally drivers illegally blow through the stop signs.

UNL has also barricaded two of three lanes on 17th Street through campus, in anticipation of buying the street from the city and closing it, though that plan is apparently on hold for now.

The goal is to discourage vehicular traffic inside City Campus and make the internal campus streets safer for pedestrians, bikes and buses, said Mark Lutjharms, a senior engineer for the city's Public Works and Utilities Department. 

That goal has been part of campus plans for almost two decades, according to city and UNL staff.

The city is encouraging drivers, who do not need to be on campus, to bypass campus altogether, by using Antelope Valley Parkway, Salt Creek Roadway, 10th Street and Q Street. 

The city is also encouraging drivers, who have business on campus, to plan their travel so they don’t do much on-campus driving. They should enter and leave campus at intersections close to their destination, Lutjharms said.

Lutjharms is also discouraging drivers from going into campus on Vine Street from Antelope Valley Parkway during the day, when classes are changing, because of the heavy pedestrian traffic.

There have been long delays for vehicles and buses, particularly at 16th and Vine streets, he said. 

The city plans to better time the signalization of lights along Antelope Valley Parkway this fall as part of a larger plan to improve nine corridors through Lincoln.

Over the next four to five weeks, traffic engineers will implement recommendations from consultants on optimizing signal times. Hopefully people who commute on Antelope Valley Parkway will see an improvement, with smoother traffic and less stop-and-go conditions, he said.  

Moving car and truck traffic off campus has been the plan for almost two decades, since the early planning stages for Antelope Valley Parkway, said Lutjharms and UNL staff.

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The long-term plan has been to route heavy traffic around the campus and to make the internal campus environment safe for the thousands of pedestrians and a growing number of bicyclists, Lutjharms said.

At one point, before Antelope Valley Parkway was built, the combined traffic on 16th and 17 streets was about 30,000 vehicles a day, Lutjharms said.

The long-term goal was to get that average daily count down to 7,000, or at least under 10,000 vehicles a day, Lutjharms said.

After Antelope Valley Parkway opened, 16th and 17th Street, then one-way pairs, were still carrying about 17,000 vehicles a day, “still higher than what we were hoping,” said Lutjharms.

This year the city and UNL began making the changes on 16th and 17th streets that would discourage vehicular traffic on campus.

That included converting 16th Street into a two-way street through campus and replacing the signals with four-way stop signs.

The plans also included closing 17th Street between S and Vine streets and selling the land to UNL.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks

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Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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