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S Road alternative for Hwy 30
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Four-lane Hwy. 30 to follow County Road 'S'

by Nathan Arneal
published 9/6/06

After a year and a half of research, meetings and deliberation, the U.S. 30 Advisory Panel has chosen a route for a new four-lane Highway 30 around North Bend and Ames. The recommended route will be presented to the Nebraska Department of Roads (NDoR) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Those two groups, who have the final say, are expected to adapt the panel’s recommendation with only minor adjustments.

The recommended route will leave the existing Highway 30 at County Road 4, which is three miles west of North Bend near the Pete Hamata farm. Where the current highway curves south, the new route will curve north for about a mile and join County Road S. County Road S is the first gravel road north of North Bend.

The new Highway 30 will then basically follow the path of Road S all the way to Fremont, which means the new highway between North Bend and Fremont will run approximately two miles north of the current Highway 30.
The new route will rejoin the existing Highway 30 near the current junction of highways 30, 275 and 77 north of Fremont.

The Advisory Panel is made up of 16 North Bend, Ames and Fremont area people, with most of the representatives coming from the North Bend area. The group divided into five interest groups: agriculture, business, community affairs, dike and drainage, and local government.

The Panel considered eight alternative routes. Alternative 1, which tightly hugged North Bend and came just yards away from the city at certain points, was eliminated early.

Before voting was done, two new alternatives, which combined elements of the existing alternatives were proposed, one by the business sub-group and another by the local government sub-group.

Shortly after the two new alternatives were proposed the 16 members voted via secret ballot.

Many were expecting the vote to go through several ballots before one plan received a majority of votes, but a majority was reached on the first ballot.

Alternative 8 received nine votes, making it the recommended route. The newly proposed business plan received one vote. The new local government plan received four votes. Alternative 7, which is very similar to Alternative 8 except it follows the existing Highway 30 about a mile further east before jumping to County Road S, received two votes.

Greg Michaud has been working as the independent mediator for the panel since it first began to meet in May 2005. However, the debate about the path of a new and improved Highway 30 goes back to 1994.

“I am very pleased that this group, despite years of gridlock, was able to come together for a recommendation,” Michaud said. “It was a big step today.”

With a plan now selected, Michaud will write up a draft of the proposal that will be presented to NDoR and FHWA and send it to the panel members for review. Michaud will then make any edits suggested and send out a revised draft to the panel. Once a final draft is ready, a public meeting will be scheduled and the plan will be presented to NDoR, FHWA, and the public. At that time the public will have a chance to ask questions about the proposed plan.

Michaud estimated that the writing and editing process would take about four to six weeks and that the public presentation of the plan could happen anywhere between mid-Octobter and mid-November. That public meeting would be the last meeting of the U.S. 30 Panel.

Michaud said that once NDoR and FHWA formally adopt a route, three main issues will have to be resolved regarding the route:

• A Environmental Impact Study would have to be done. A study on the environmental impact of a new highway was already done, but it was done so long ago in the process that a new one will have to be conducted.

• A relinquishment plan would have to be hammered out. Once the new road is in use, Dodge County would assume responsibility for the maintenance of the Old Highway 30. Several members of the panel suggested that a strong recommendation for cooperation between NDoR and the county be written into the plan, whether it be assisting with upkeep funds from federal grants, or even donating labor or used equipment for the county’s use.

• The drainage situation along the new route will have to be worked out. It is important for the drainage ditch running east and west along Country Road S continue uninterrupted. Farmers with ground along the new road will also need to be assured that “ponding” does not occur. In other words, farmers do not want water to start to pool in the middle of their fields because of and changes of ground elevation caused by the new highway. Several members of the agriculture and dike/drainage subgroups volunteered to work with NDoR during the design phase to monitor these concerns.

Michaud said that these three areas of concern will be out of the panel’s hands once NDoR starts planning the new road.

While the adopting of a recommendation is a large step forward in this 12-year process, Michaud said actual construction of the new highway is still anywhere from 7 to 12 years away.

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