Northwest Omaha drivers frustrated with increased traffic near Westview High School

Traffic backups at 156th and Ida streets in Omaha have nearby residents frustrated.
Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 4:36 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - In the shadows of Westview High School near 156th and Ida streets, it’s bumper-to-bumper traffic during the early morning rush.

“A lot of times, I’m getting right onto Ida just to get to a standstill,” Kaylie Schmid said.

She said 156th Street is no better.

“Even though I work near 84th and Dodge, I have to leave over 45 minutes early to get there to work.”

Others said it’s been like this for more than a year.

“Five to 10 minutes just sitting at the corner, waiting for traffic,” Matt Rivard said.

He said because vehicles get so backed up, trying to turn left onto either 156th or Ida streets from a side road is very difficult.

Some drivers have given up on that and instead go through the residential roads.

“I’d have to drive through the neighborhood, get out on 144th Street, and then I can just head straight south through the light, as opposed to trying to get into this traffic on Ida, which is horrendous,” Rivard said.

How long will it be like this? And when will they widen that section of 156th Street to two lanes in each direction?

The Douglas County Engineer’s office said that could be quite a few years from now because it has several other projects that are a priority.

One of those is a $4 million intersection improvement effort at 168th and State.

“There were multiple fatalities out there,” engineering manager Dan Kutilek said. “It was called the ‘State Street jump,’ and young drivers would go out there to test their skills and some of them didn’t make it.”

Kutilek said that one will go into next year, but that when it’s finished, it should relieve the volume of traffic in the area.

Other major projects over the next few years in that part of the county include improvements at 168th and Ida Streets and 156th and State Streets.

Kutilek said a lot of what’s on his office’s plate is development-driven.

As is the case with a lot of things, funds influence when they work on roads.

“It’s a struggle to come up with the money to keep up with the traffic,” Kutilek said. “We have a plan—a six-year plan—that we put together to try to anticipate some of these things, but it’s financial issues that usually control the timing of it.

He doesn’t have an estimate on how much widening that stretch of 156th Street would cost, but that it will be several years before it happens unless some federal funds come in.

Kutilek said the county is scheduled to do a traffic study at the intersection of 156th and Ida streets starting next week in order to make some traffic signal modifications to help move more cars through that intersection.