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Highway construction continues

Progress of the construction happening on Ninth Avenue alongside Warner Hall.

Alana Kellen
News Reporter

As students made their way back to campus they likely noticed the ongoing construction surrounding the university. Despite hopes of it being done by the time school started, weather and the approval process for the construction delayed the project from being completed in time for students’ arrival. 

Lee McQueen, UNK facilities director, stated that these road changes were made for the safety of everyone.

“One of the things that the Nebraska Department of Transportation or NDOT did was reset the crosswalk along Highway 30 that was on the east side of the Fine Arts Building to approximately the west side of the building,” McQueen said. “The traffic signal that was there was also relocated to make it easier for cars to see the traffic light and pedestrians crossing.”

There are three ongoing projects and a fourth one that is still in the planning stage. These are to improve safety and provide a new arrival destination on campus. The three projects in progress now include the construction on the intersections going from Ninth Avenue into Highway 30 and onward, the installment of a permanent ramp at Warner Hall’s entrance, and an identity sign to mark the entrance into the east side of campus. The fourth project is a plan to widen the sidewalks running along Highway 30.

“We’ve known for some years that the construction from Ninth Avenue into Highway 30 was going to be happening, we just needed to get approval from NDOT and that’s where we ran into some trouble,” McQueen said. “There was a moment in time when UNK and the city approached NDOT to talk about the potential to develop a roundabout at this intersection. NDOT reviewed that concept, looked into traffic counts, and concluded they did not want to build a roundabout there.”

Kent Washington, project manager for the Highway 30 construction, oversaw the progression of the construction throughout its entirety. Like McQueen, Washington said that the main reason for the road construction was to improve safety along the highway. 

“We reconfigured most of the left turns to hopefully make it safer for both drivers and pedestrians,” Washington said. “The left turn areas were unsafe because cars would stack up, making a left turn along Seventh and Eighth Avenue, so now we feel it is made safer for drivers.”

The Highway 30 construction is a $2.06 million project with funds coming from the state, city, and federal levels. Washington says the construction is 99 percent done, unless they find other minor details to fix. 

“There will probably be a few minor things like clean up and taking down signs that needs to be finished,” Washington said. “Hopefully next week we can make that happen.”

NDOT and UNK’s goal was to make that intersection safer for the east side of campus than it originally was. Once NDOT was committed to the project, UNK then committed to making improvements in pedestrian flow and traffic in front of Warner Hall. 

The construction on Ninth Avenue is designed to provide enhanced entry and enhanced arrival points on the southeast corner of campus. One thing students will start to see in 

the fall is the development of an identity sign that is like the sign on the southwest corner of campus. This identity sign will have columns to indicate an entrance to campus. Colored pavers are also going to be installed to mark pedestrian access and crossing. 

“The identity sign, the two columns, and the landscaped entry into campus are going to be a nice enhancement to campus,” McQueen said. “It’s a fun project that helps that space be a destination for us.”

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