Global microchip shortage delays stoplight installation at deadly Papillion intersection

WOWT 6 News Live at 6:30
Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 6:19 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The plan to install a stoplight at a dangerous Papillion intersection has been thwarted by the global supply chain crisis.

A spokesperson for the city of Papillion confirmed to 6 News that the planned stoplight at the intersection of 2nd and Washington streets has been delayed by several months.

In August 2019, 10-year-old Abby Whitford was hit by a distracted driver while crossing through the intersection with her brother. She died two days later.

Since then, the intersection has seen some changes to improve pedestrian safety. But the changes made so far have drawn criticism from many.

“They should have put a stoplight in to start with, that’s kind of, at least my feeling,” says Bryon Compton, the owner of Graley’s Creamy on the corner. ‘The blinking light was a good start, but people don’t know how to use it so they get confused.”

In July, the city told 6 News they were in the process of designing a pedestrian-activated stoplight, which will allow citizens to completely stop traffic at the intersection before crossing.

That planning process couldn’t start until the state-owned highway, 84th street, was relinquished to the city, which happened in January.

Before it was relinquished, the city of Papillion had certain parameters they had to follow when making changes to the road. Now that the stretch of road belongs to the city, they can make more significant changes, like adding the stoplight.

“Papillion’s a small town, we move slow about things, but we make the right decisions and some of it’s not their fault,” Compton says.

Compton, also a co-president of the Papillion Historical Downtown Business Association, says the city has done a good job of keeping businesses like his updated on the coming changes.

City officials say the global shortage of microchips delayed Papillion’s engineers from being able to accurately estimate the cost so that contractors could bid on the project. If you can’t get a part, it can be hard to know how much it might be.

The stoplight, which the city told 6 News they wanted to complete by October or November of this year, is now expected to begin going up this spring, given they have the supplies they need. But it could be as late as next fall, the city’s spokesperson says.

A contractor is expected to be awarded the bid for the project at the Nov. 16 city council meeting.

Business owners like Compton say they’re understanding of the slow process and are patient. They say they are just glad it’s still in the city’s plan to install it.

“It’ll slow traffic down, we’re excited about that.”

But while they wait, they say people need to be cautious.

“What we need to ask people to do is just to slow down during the winter until it gets in place,” Compton says. “There’s still kids that cross every single day, you know, it’s still dangerous for anybody crossing that road, and so drivers and pedestrians alike need to be careful.”

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