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NDOT hosting meeting in Columbus regarding dangerous highway intersection

January 31, 2019

An upcoming meeting Monday at the Ramada Hotel & River’s Edge Convention Center is intended to educate the public about some of the action being taken north of Columbus at an intersection that has been a hot spot for serious vehicle accidents.

The intersection, located near Klub 81 Travel Center and Grille near the Humphrey turnoff, has been in the news several times during the course of the past few years because of its high volume of injury/fatality accidents.

The gathering is being hosted by the Northeastern Chapter of the Nebraska Society of Professional Engineers. The society dedicates itself to the promotion and the protection of the profession of engineering as a social and economic influence vital to the welfare of the community and all of mankind, according to information from the organization’s website.

The group invited Rob Davis of the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) to serve as guest speaker to inform the public about the measures being taken to prevent wrecks and save live at the intersection of U.S. 81/N-91.

“It seems like there has been more accidents there than other intersections with similar geometry and traffic counts,” said Davis, who serves as the District 3 assistant construction engineer for the NDOT. “And the last couple of years, it has increased, especially with the number of severe accidents. They have become a lot more prevalent.”

Audience members will hear the engineer discuss two primary courses of action the department has been mulling over: installing an interchange or an RCUT (Restricted Crossing U-Turn Intersection).

The interchange, he said, is a possible option but that it’s not really appropriate for the amount of traffic volume in the area. It would also be far more time consuming in regard to construction and also far more expensive, he added.

The department is leaning more toward RCUT construction, which with approval would likely be completed sometime this year, he said.

“The RCUT is basically where traffic on (Highway) 81 would proceed as usual, but the traffic on (Nebraska) 91 would be restricted from making a right turn,” Davis said. “And then if they intended to go straight across 81 or turn left, they would have to make a right turn and (then travel down the road) and make a U-Turn before proceeding to their path.”

Proactive action needs to happen, he said, noting once again how problematic the area is.

“At the current intersection accidents are pretty much happening with every movement, you can’t just say that it’s people trying to cross 81 or people trying to cross 91,” he said. “There are accidents with people crossing, making left turns, and a lot of those accidents are very severe T-bone accidents which cause a lot of injuries.”

The meeting is happening at noon inside of the facility at 265 33rd Ave. Lunch costs $14.95 and is being served buffet style.

Those interested in attending are being asked to RSVP to Joy Meister at the Nebraska Public Power District no later than noon today by calling 402-563-5215, or emailing her at jemeist@nppd.com. Those expected to attend are also being asked to cancel their RSVP by 9 a.m. Monday if they are unable to make it.

Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net

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