At the July meeting of the Bennington City Council:
156th Street: We got an update on this project's challenges and slow progress. The good news is that OPPD has largely completed electrical work, clearing the way for faster progress on the road itself. The immediate goal is to complete enough roadway for access to Bennington Elementary's bus loop, which will likely handle pick-up and drop-off when school starts August 12.
The bad news is that delays have scrambled prior plans for leaving one lane open on 156th Street. To pick up the pace, both lanes have been closed for the past week. These double-lane closures will likely continue. Hopefully within the next week or two, the newly paved road South of Warehouse Street will open, making it possible to leave Bennington to the south.
At this time, beyond the goal of creating orderly access to the elementary school, there is no detailed construction schedule. The city engineer is joining weekly meetings with the contractor and the Nebraska Department of Roads, which is managing the project. After school starts, I hope I will be able to share a new schedule with you.
This project was never going to be easy. The benefits of a new, safer road -- with 80 percent of the cost paid by the state and federal governments -- will be enormous. In the meantime, I will continue to ask for and pass along useful information to address the project's many inconveniences.
New parkland at Kempten Creek: This week the Council authorized the mayor to negotiate a purchase agreement for more than 30 acres of land south of Bennington Road at Johns-Bohn Park. We will likely vote on whether to approve the purchase at the August Council meeting. While COVID-19 convinced the mayor and the Council to delay this purchase for several months, our city's emerging financial picture has been reassuring. Our sales tax revenue continues to be strong, probably the result of increased online shopping (a portion of taxes paid online are remitted to cities) and residents buying local.
Meanwhile, the mayor has appointed a committee to begin planning the design and development of the new parkland. I would welcome your thoughts and ideas on this. Beyond youth soccer and football fields, what would you like to see? Paths for walking or biking? A stage? An ice rink? A splash pad? We hope to make something useful for residents of all ages, all year-around. Please let me know what you think.
N. Molley Street: The Council unanimously approved an ordinance to lower the speed limit on N. Molley near the entrance to the new development to 15 mph from 25 mph. The new signs are already up. I have also worked with the city engineer to identify a location for a speed table, similar to the one on N. 2nd Street, that will help slow down traffic. The only viable location, far enough from intersections and driveways to meet standards, is about halfway between the new street and the intersection of Molley and Stark -- about in the middle of the straightaway. While it won't slow down everyone all the time, I think it will lower the risks of injuries and wrecks significantly. I will ask my fellow Council members to approve the installation of the speed table at the August Council meeting.
The full agenda, minutes, and supporting documents are all posted here.
As always, please contact me with your ideas or concerns about these topics or any other. Stay safe out there!