Plans to close down 17th Street through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus and sell the land to the university are apparently in political limbo.

In late June, UNL put up barricades, closing down two of the three lanes on 17th Street north of R Street, in anticipation of imploding the Cather-Pound dorms in December, and in hopes of getting people used to a restricted 17th Street.

The closure of 17th Street through the city campus is part of the long-range university plans to reduce the number of vehicles on campus and make it safer for pedestrians. The city has also converted 16th Street from one-way to two-way and replaced intersection signals to four-way stops as part of that goal.

However, the plans to sell 17th street to UNL have not moved to the City Council, though it's been more than six weeks since early public discussions of the plan and an appraisal indicated the sale price would be about $80,000.

Some council members have indicated privately they would like to get more money, or more concessions from UNL.

The council has not been informed of anything, beyond a pre-council meeting where plans to close 17th Street were laid out, said Roy Christensen, council chair.

"I have yet to see anything appear on the agenda and I have no further information about when they are putting it on the agenda. I am perplexed," Christensen said.

In addition, Richard Schmeling, president of Citizens for Improved Transit, has raised several safety-related and bus issues with the current plans for 16th and 17th streets.

Schmeling said the ordinance to close and sell 17th Street is in limbo and there are plans to meet on the issues.

Schmeling has suggested the city retain 17th Street through the campus, but limit it to vehicles delivery trucks and buses.

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The delay is part of the normal process for an application to vacate, according to Jon Carlson, an aide to Mayor Chris Beutler.

"UNL is hoping that the cost could be reduced for the vacated city land and we are looking into that," Carlson said in an email response. "Historically, when we work with UNL (like Lincoln Public Schools), we often have other project cost offsets or land swaps that could balance the cost of the vacated land."

"So, neither city nor UNL are holding it up. We are working together to see what might be possible for cost offsets or land swap," he wrote.

Two lanes of 17th Street have been closed since late June while UNL negotiates transfer of the street with the city administration. The negotiations include the value of the street, its condition and potential price point, said Brooke Hay, UNL's assistant director of facilities planning and construction.

Until a plan is agreed upon between the city and university, 17th Street could remain partially closed until as late as next summer, according to Hay.

Reporter Chris Dunker contributed to this report.

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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