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A committee overseeing how Lincoln spends its new sales tax money on street repairs has recommended projects in four neighborhoods across the city and fixes on North 70th, South 40th and South 48th streets in 2020. 

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird's advisory committee made its suggestions based on feedback from open houses, online mapping and surveys and advice from Lincoln Transportation and Utilities Department officials.  

The committee heeded the calls they heard at open houses for repairs on 70th Street from Colfax to Havelock avenues. 

And it recommended work on South 40th and South 48th streets from Pioneers Boulevard to Nebraska 2, also identified in surveys and at open houses as loathsome stretches for Lincoln drivers.

Those two streets have been "real boogers," Assistant Director of Transportation Lonnie Burklund told the group.

Transportation officials believe the arterial street improvement projects, estimated to cost $3.1 million altogether, can realistically be done in 2020. 

"There’s only one criteria: What can physically be done that doesn’t require a bunch of coordination, advance planning, et cetera," Engineering Services Manager Thomas Shafer of Lincoln Transportation and Utilities told the group. 

The committee's recommendations are the first glimpse at what street repairs the city could do with the initial revenue from the quarter-cent sales tax that took effect Oct. 1. 

The city believes it will receive $13 million annually from the new tax, but in the upcoming fiscal year, city transportation staff will be working with a projected $9.75 million.

Of that, about $2.5 million will be used to build new streets and go toward long-term improvements at 33rd Street and Cornhusker Highway, as outlined in the sales tax proposal approved by voters. 

In a two-hour-plus meeting Thursday, 13 committee members analyzed different ways they could prioritize residential repair projects presented by LTU officials. 

Shafer believes the sales tax collections will fund a total of 20 neighborhood projects across the city's four quadrants over the tax's six-year lifespan.

Committee members debated how much weight they should give to responses of the 1,032 people who took a survey to help prioritize the city's initial neighborhood street repairs. 

Survey results listed the top three priorities for picking streets as pavement condition, traffic volume and safety, in that order.

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"I don’t need the people," committee member Russell Miller said. "I need the streets talking."

Ultimately, they adopted a model ranking projects based on the survey results, mainly because it still gave weight to projects addressing the roughest residential streets. 

The committee recommended a repair package in each of the city's four geographic council districts. Transportation officials estimate total costs at about $3.2 million.

In southwest Lincoln, a package of streets in the Southwood neighborhood projected to cost $580,000 got the committee's support. 

The grouping covers Essex Road from Grassridge Road to Tipperary Trail, Southwood Circle to Essex Road, Southwood Drive from Essex Road to Nebraska 2 and Tipperary Trail from Essex Road to 27th Street.

The committee's recommendation for northwest Lincoln focused on the McPhee Elementary School neighborhood package. 

That $984,000 bundle of streets covered Lincoln Mall between 10th and 14th streets, 14th Street from A to K streets and Goodhue Boulevard between A and H streets.

In northeast Lincoln, the committee recommended the Havelock neighborhood package estimated to cost $967,000.

That package covers 57th Street from Greenwood to Hartley streets, Greenwood Street from 56th to 60th, Hartley from 56th to 66th, 62nd Street from Judson to Fremont streets, Gladstone Street from 65th to 68th and Willow Street from 68th to 70th.

In southeast Lincoln, the committee recommended a package of street repairs in the neighborhood around Zeman Elementary School projected to cost $692,000. 

That package covers Claire Avenue from 48th to 53rd streets, 52nd Street from Boeckner Avenue to LaSalle Street, 53rd Street from Boeckner to Claire, Boeckner from 49th to 53rd and 49th Street from Boeckner to Woodland Avenue.  

If approved, LTU officials likely would coordinate the work in the Zeman Elementary neighborhood with the repairs on South 40th and 48th streets in 2020 and 2021.

These recommendations will ultimately be the subject of a public hearing before the City Council next month. 

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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