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33rd and Cornhusker corridor

Traffic rolls to a stop on North 33rd Street as a coal train moves along the BNSF Railway tracks just south of Cornhusker Highway.

The Lincoln City Council delayed any decision on the Cornhusker Highway and 33rd Street planning documents for a month to give the Planning Department time to confer with some of the businesses affected by the potential changes.

Several dozen people, representing Speedway Properties, Windstream and Virginia’s Cafe, described impacts the potential changes along the Cornhusker Highway corridor would have on them.

The council is considering adding several planning documents to the Comprehensive Plan that impact the future developments in that area of north Lincoln. 

Among those documents are four potential transportation plans — not yet final — that would eliminate three of the rail crossings along the Cornhusker Highway corridor. The plans also outline how to deal with traffic issues in the area, address flood control and aesthetics.  

A preliminary preferred plan would put a bridge over the Virginia’s Cafe property and take the property of more than a dozen other businesses.

“We own our own buildings and we never thought we’d have to defend our business from becoming a bridge,” said Tracy Von Busch, who owns Virginia’s Cafe with her husband.

Her family has concerns about the cost of moving, and whether the business could survive a move, she said during a public hearing Monday night at the council meeting.

Speedway Properties owns multiple properties in the area used for light-industrial purposes, said Michael Tavlin, with Speedway. The potential plans, including an area for mixed-use business, are incompatible with the current and future use of the properties as shown in the plans, he said.

Though city officials say the plans are tentative and the zoning hasn’t been changed, those plans will guide future developments and decisions, he said.

One of the plans shows Salt Creek Roadway running right through property that Windstream leases at 2500 State Fair Park Drive, property the company had planned to use as its primary customer service location for about three decades, said Brad Hedrick with Windstream.

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Planning Director Dave Cary said the Railroad Transportation Safety District will likely have a decision on the final street alignment within six months, giving a clear idea which businesses will be impacted.

Some of the businesses, owned by several generations of local families, believe that Lincoln’s vision of the future does not include them, said Councilman Roy Christensen.

“They own the property now. They have a legacy business. This (transportation plan) is telling them in a pretty straightforward way” that the city doesn’t see them in that future vision, he said.

The city needs to stay focused on the real issue, making the rail crossings safer, said Councilwoman Jane Raybould, when the council unanimously approved a month’s delay.

A delay would give people chance to be more comfortable with a plan that people have been working on for some time, said Councilwoman Cyndi Lamm.

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

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.

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Reporter

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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