Barricades at 156th and Pacific construction making intersection more dangerous

Neighbors say they’re glad the city responded quickly.
A construction zone in West Omaha is making it difficult for drivers to avoid turning into oncoming traffic.
Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 5:14 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A barrier with barricades protects drivers from a water main dig but has also made a turn for the worse.

“We’ve had two accidents in a week,” said driver John Larsen. “The one guy is turning in and the oncoming traffic just hit him.”

John Larsen lives near 156th and Pacific streets in West Omaha and took pictures of both crashes he says should prove the barricades block the view of drivers turning left onto 156th.

“So this guy here, he’s got to sneak out there to try and see around,” Larsen said. “Small cars like that, you can’t see around.”

An arrow signal provided a safe turn for several seconds, then it went solid green, creating anxious moments for drivers crossing oncoming traffic. One of them called the danger in to 911 dispatch.

“Construction site is making visibility difficult for traffic turning northbound. Thinks it might cause another accident.”

In a nearby strip mall, Medicine Man Pharmacy employees say the turn set up now is a prescription for injury, if not worse.

“Your car is halfway out there and you’re trying to see things and you can’t see the cars coming, let alone when the sunlight hits at a certain time,” said Evan Ritzdorf with the pharmacy.

6 On Your Side documented the hazard and sent emails.

Omaha’s traffic engineer says he was unaware of the turning hazard until 6 News contacted him. Tuesday afternoon, city crews were out there making safety changes.

The left turn lane closed briefly while a city traffic signal crew took down the turn arrow light and made an adjustment. Larsen said he was glad to see a response.

“We had to do something and hopefully there won’t be any more accidents then,” Larsen said.

The left turn lane is back open, and still has an arrow, but changes to yellow, then red. No more solid green -- which eliminates a blind left turn that left too much to chance.

MUD tells 6 News the water main repair requiring the barricades at that intersection will last about another two weeks. Omaha Public Works will provide the public with more information on the 156th Street improvement project at a meeting set for 5:30 Thursday night at Millard North High School.