The city has selected three engineering firms to look for creative cures to what has grown into a massive headache for southwest Lincoln drivers.
The three firms -- Felsburg, Holt and Ullevig; Schemmer Associates; and HDR Engineering -- will compete for a contract to redesign intersections near Warlick Boulevard.
Even the name of the project indicates its complexity: "14th/Warlick/Old Cheney."
"It's a mouthful," said Holly Lionberger, the city engineer dealing with the project.
The project includes four intersections where 28 injury accidents and 60 property damage accidents occurred in the past five years:
* Warlick Boulevard and Old Cheney Road
* 14th Street and Old Cheney Road
* 16th Street and Old Cheney Road
* 14th Street and Warlick Boulevard
The three firms, with each to receive a $125,000 stipend, have until mid-October to put together their conceptual plans. They were selected from eight seeking the work.
The city will meet with stakeholders, those directly affected by the project, during the process.
There also will be a public hearing, likely in early November, to showcase the design work of the three firms and get feedback from the public, Lionberger said.
The city then will select a firm, which will move forward with a final design that may be a combination of solutions from all the firms, she said.
The city hopes to ask contractors to bid on the work in the winter of 2014.
This contest is a new way of doing business in Lincoln. Traditionally, one engineering firm is selected for all design work.
The city is hoping this "healthy competition" will bring out creative thinking on a series of intersections that have both congestion and safety issues, Lionberger said.
The city expects that the $375,000 will be well spent, and the city will end up spending the same amount of money in the long run, she said.
The idea of having firms compete came from a seminar on alternative intersection design, Lionberger said.
Staff have been looking for at least a decade at the area, without finding a good solution.
Every preliminary concept -- overpass, underpass, roundabout, traditional intersection, continuous flow, median U-turn -- would solve one issue and not another.
HDR staff in other parts of the country have been involved in this kind of competition, where several firms compete for the final job by working on initial design, said Matt Tondl, senior vice president.
The series of intersections offers unique problems with the combination of high accident rates, capacity issues and right-of-way constraints, Tondl said.
The competition might be a good way to find a solution that is acceptable to the public, he said.
Part of the problem, Lionberger said, is that few east-west roads in south Lincoln extend past Wilderness Park.
There's Old Cheney and then there is Saltillo Road, five miles away, she said.
"So Old Cheney has become kind of a funnel."