Douglas County Board of Commissioners heard an updated plan for the area’s upcoming highway improvements on Tuesday ahead of a vote on June 28. Dan Kutilek from the Douglas County Engineer’s office presented the One and Six Year Highway Plan to the board.
There are 23 active projects this fiscal year, which Kutilek said was indicative of a “booming development period that we haven’t seen in years.” Those projects are spread across the county, including bridge repairs in the northwest and in Ponca Hills, and repairing the hazardous intersection at 168th and State Streets, which Kutilek said is referred to as the “state street jump.”
Kutilek said the bridge repair at 180th and Blondo Streets will feature a newly designed structure meant to replicate the “Art Deco” style of the 1920s when the old Lincoln Highway was constructed.
The 23 projects will cost a total of $72 million, a third of which the county is responsible for, Kutilek said. The rest of the cost will be split between developers and federal aid. Kutilek said cost of construction has gone up markedly, with some bids being 25% higher than expected. He said those bids were rejected and the county will rebid them at a later date when costs decrease.
The County Board approved two projects requesting funding from the American Rescue Plan, including $130,000 to the Douglas County Election Commission for surveillance cameras at ballot dropboxes.
Douglas County Election Commissioner Brian Kruse said the county’s 13 dropboxes are already in view of security cameras, but they aren’t owned by the county. In the event that something happens, the election commission has to go through a third party to access the footage. He said the money covers the next five years, and the county-owned cameras will allow them to respond immediately in the event of a reported issue.
Kruse said voters are using the dropboxes more and more each election cycle, with about 3/4ths of voters now using them, as it’s the most direct way to deliver a ballot to the election commission.
The County Board also approved $50,000 from ARPA to the North Omaha Cultural Center for the design of a new multi-purpose facility which will honor the legacy of Ernie Chambers.