Grand Island seeks input to improve dangerous road

Potash meeting (NTV News)

Cars collide weekly, Some with deadly consequences at one of Grand Island's most dangerous intersections. Now, the city asks for public input, as engineers make plans to improve Old Potash Highway.

“Some fear driving on 281 between 30 and Old Potash,” public works director John Collins said.

Old Potash sits just north of where two highways meet.

Busy manufacturing plants and popular stores draw constant traffic, and too many crashes.

Collins said, “Collisions along the corridor as a whole, there's about one a week if you average it out over 3 years. So it's an important safety project as well as congestion mitigation.”

Improving this road, and the ones it connects to, is a major priority.

Collins said, “We plan to start on Old Potash and intend to look at the whole area over time.”

But before they do anything they want to hear from people who use the road often to see if there are any problems they've overlooked.

Dozens attended an open house Tuesday, which allowed people to speak up.

One concern, is many drivers say they feel like they wait forever to make a left turn. It may be a matter of seconds, but people may take chances if they get impatient.

Collins said, “It impacts driver behavior, including traffic violations and causing collisions away from that area, not just on the corridor.”

The city may break improvements up into several phases. And they say it could take years, and millions, although state funding would likely help.

Collins said, “We're expecting things like maybe dual left turn lanes, or an additional right turn lane that's not there.”

Engineers would like to raise medians, add lanes, maybe even look at roundabouts and bike routes, all in the name of safety.

Grand Island Mayor Jeremy Jensen said problems are compounded by the fact the city has grown to the west. He says the infrastructure hasn't kept up.

Another concern is relocating the post office to old potash from downtown. The mayor says one unknown is foot traffic.

He said, “Most of that's simply going to be eliminated. I don't see many people having the ability to walk to the post office like they did in the past and so we've got thriving business along this corridor. Hornady continues to grow. All of those businesses, Hy-Vee, all right there.”

The mayor says if the city moves ahead with construction, it will be painful because it will result in delays and detours but said it's in the long term interest of the city.

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