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Coalition of 25 leaders to examine city's transportation future
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Coalition of 25 leaders to examine city's transportation future

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A group of 25 community and business leaders will examine the city’s long-range transportation plan over the next six months, looking for new ideas to address street needs.

The high-powered Citizens' Transportation Coalition, which will meet monthly, will make recommendations in January to Mayor Chris Beutler on Lincoln’s future transportation system and how it should be funded.

The coalition, announced at a news conference Thursday, will be led by Bob Caldwell, vice president at NEBCO, and Miki Esposito, director of the city’s Public Works and Utilities Department, and will include six elected officials.

“We know from experience that we can accomplish big things in Lincoln by bringing all parties to the table and developing a shared vision,” Beutler said at the news conference.

The coalition will look at the current and future street system, focusing on five specific issues:

* What are Lincoln’s current preservation and expansion needs?

* What level of maintenance do citizens expect?

* What transportation investments are needed to continue to improve the quality of life in Lincoln?

* What will be the investment costs?

* What are the best ways for the city to fund its current and future needs?

The coalition began its first meeting Thursday with a bus tour of central and south Lincoln. The StarTran bus bumped over a block of Eighth Street near downtown, one of the city's worst-rated streets. It drove along the many faces of Old Cheney Road, which moves from a four-lane divided arterial street that serves the commercial area around 27th Street to the two-lane road that is still part of the county farther west.

The bus went through a new housing development, near 56th and Old Cheney, where the streets put in by the developer are already starting to deteriorate.

The coalition will have to balance maintenance needs in the older parts of town with the need for growth in edge areas, said Danny Rotert, with Burns & McDonnell, a consulting firm hired to work with the coalition.

Currently, the city requires the developer to pay for the new streets in a housing development, building them to a city standard. Then they are turned over to the city, which is responsible for the long-term maintenance.

The committee can look at those standards, as well as how these streets are funded, as part of the process, said Rotert.

Coalition members will look at the way the city has always done things, deciding if that is the best way for the future, he said.

The work of Burns & McDonnell is part of a $450,000 city contract with Olsson Associates to work with the coalition, bring in ideas from other peer cities on how they handle and pay for streets, and write the report to the mayor.

The coalition meetings will be open to the public and information available to coalition members will also be available to the public.

Information about the coalition and its meetings is available at LincolnOnTheMove.com.

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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