Drivers south of the metro have been alert for some time now. You may find travel on Highway 75 around the Platte River more difficult for quite some time. A $61 million project by the Nebraska Department of Roads is underway and drivers need to be prepared.
It's a lot of short term pain for long-term gain. The project on Highway 75 is to expand the link between Omaha and Plattsmouth. This four-mile stretch from just north of the Platte River extends to the south end of Plattsmouth at Avenue B.
Robert Rinner of Plattsmouth can live with the temporary pain. He says the need is there. "I think it's going pretty good. We've got a lot of people coming through town and its getting done pretty quick."
The two-lane road now carries 20,000 vehicles a day. That figure will only increase as more people move into Cass County. Four lanes will replace the current two-lane roadway and should ease congestion and shorten drive times.
But for now, drive times may be a bit longer than many drivers expect. Norman Hamm of Omaha doesn't take Highway 75 often, but, "I try not to come back to Omaha during rush hour because that's when I see a mile, a couple of miles that's when it really slows down."
Crews are eliminating several dips and sight line issues the old road possessed that created potential safety concerns. As a result, there are stoplights and one area where the highway is reduced to one lane. Drivers have to snake through lane changes, for the most part driving on one side of the new road.
Rinner can always tell when a driver is a bit confused. "Sometimes, some people always go on different parts of the road, but then they figure it out."
Hamm says there's a cure for that. "Yeah, take it easy, be patient to something we have to live with. Over the long-term it's going to be an improvement."
The four-mile stretch currently under construction won't be done until sometime next summer. This is just one section of a four-phase road improvement project on Highway 75. The entire project won't be finished until 2015.