Frequently Asked Questionss
Why is this project needed?
Six fatalities and two disabling injuries have occurred in crashes between BNSF trains and motor vehicles or pedestrians over the last 30 years at the N. 33rd Street and Adams Street crossings. Currently, 65 trains travel the BNSF tracks on a daily basis, and approximately 20,200 motor vehicles cross the BNSF tracks at these two crossings combined. The current daily railroad crossing exposure rating (daily trains multiplied by daily vehicles at the two crossings) is approximately 1,313,000 potential crashes per day between trains and motor vehicles. The exposure rating is expected to increase as rail freight movements in the United States are projected to increase by 37% over the next 25 years.
Congestion and delays due to passing trains block both roads for approximately 3.5 hours each day. Alternative routes across the BNSF Railway corridor in the study area, primarily N. 27th Street, are becoming increasingly congested and are projected to see increased traffic volume over the next 25 years. In addition, there are no sidewalks or shoulders for pedestrians or bicyclists at either crossing. Facilities for connectivity between alternative travel modes (bus, bicycle and pedestrian) do not meet the existing or future (2040) needs of Northeast Lincoln, as identified in the City of Lincoln/Lancaster County MPO’s Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP).
What is the purpose of the project?
The purpose of the project is to identify and evaluate potential transportation improvements in the north portion of Lincoln, with specific attention along the rail corridor between N. 27th and N. 48th streets.
Improvements are intended to:
Improve safety along the rail corridor by eliminating or reducing the potential conflict points between trains and other transportation modes (vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists);
Reduce delay for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists crossing the rail corridor;
Accommodate existing and future traffic (Year 2040) to reduce congestion along streets crossing the rail corridor;
Improve mobility across the rail corridor in north Lincoln; and
Improve multimodal connectivity in north Lincoln for vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and bus transit.
What will the project cost and how will it be funded?
The project is currently in the Planning phase. Although conceptual estimates of approximately $75 million were developed during the PEL Study, the cost will be dependent upon the concepts selected to provide a safe and efficient transportation system. The cost estimate will continue to be refined through the environmental and preliminary engineering phases. The project will be funded through a variety of sources in addition to the RTSD, including state, federal and railroad sources.
Who is the RTSD and how are they funded?
The RTSD is a political subdivision that was created specifically to fund railroad crossing safety projects by the Nebraska legislature in 1971. The cause for this legislation was an alarmingly high rate of fatalities in train-to-vehicle/pedestrian collisions. The RTSD provides funding for railroad safety related projects throughout Lincoln and Lancaster County. The cooperation between the City, County and Railroad keeps administrative costs low and sets aside funding for qualifying projects through the collection of tax dollars.
RTSDs may levy property taxes (through the County Board) to a maximum amount of $.026/$100. The Lincoln/Lancaster County RTSD current tax rate is set at $.022/$100. RTSD funds are exclusively for improvements to railroad/car/pedestrian safety and cannot be appropriated elsewhere. For more information, visit lincoln.ne.gov: keyword RTSD.
Will there be opportunities for the public and those affected by the project to meet with the project team?
There will be multiple opportunities for the public and others affected by or simply interested in the project to meet with the project team. Open house public information meetings are scheduled to share the project information and obtain public input. In addition to these meetings, the project team will meet directly with a number of key stakeholder groups and conduct one-on-one meetings with business and property owners.
How does this project relate to the flood study being conducted for Deadmans Run?
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), in cooperation with the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District and the City of Lincoln, have completed a feasibility study to evaluate and address flooding problems along Deadmans Run, a 6-mile long tributary to Salt Creek that runs through the study area. The study looked at ways to reduce the flood risk along Deadmans Run. The study was primarily focused on the area between Cornhusker Highway and N. 48th Street. The preferred alternatives included channel and bridge improvements, a detention basin to hold excess water and a concrete flume under the railroad to improve the flow of water. Projects resulting from the study are currently being designed, with construction planned for 2020. Since this stretch of Deadmans Run travels through the N. 33rd Street and Cornhusker Highway area, the project will be in coordination with the USACE to make sure that any transportation system improvements are compatible with the findings from the flood study.
How does this project relate to the Antelope Valley project? Is this an extension or Phase 2 of that project?
Although the project is adjacent to Antelope Valley, it’s not an extension of that project. As part of the Planning phase, the project team considered current infrastructure and potential future transportation improvements identified in the Long Range Transportation Plan when developing the Subarea Plan.
What is the City of Lincoln’s role in this project?
Staff from the City of Lincoln Department of Transportation and Utilities provide administrative and technical support for RTSD projects. Roger Figard serves as the Executive Director for the RTSD and Kris Humphrey with the City of Lincoln serves as the RTSD Project Manager for the transportation improvements as well as the Deadmans Run projects. The City Planning Department oversaw the Planning phase of the project.