New stoplights on Highway 370 aim to reduce crashes

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PAPILLION, Neb. (WOWT) -- A Sarpy County intersection should be much safer tonight.

That's because a new traffic light on Highway 370 has just been turned on at 66th Street.

Highway 370 is a divided highway where the posted speeds are 55 miles per hour.

Sarpy County Sheriff's Captain Chris Culler said it’s a very heavily traveled roadway.

“As the traffic increases on that roadway some frustrations also increase and so we do get some drivers that exceed the speed limit and they don't follow the traffic laws as they should,” he said. “We do see an increase in accidents.”

Culler said as the county grows, the potential danger increases.

“When 370 was first put in as a State Highway, we didn't have all the intersections we have or at least we didn't have all the industry that is currently at those intersections,” he said.

That’s the case at 66th Street.

“We've got a lot of apartments and residential homes at that intersection and a lot of people visiting people at those apartments,” Culler said.

MacKenna Brown drives the intersection daily.

“I’ve seen other people with close calls,” she said.

Stop signs on 66th Street left drivers to fend for themselves to safely enter the state highway.

“Having to pull out into the middle and then wait for the other traffic so you can go,” Brown said.

Those dangers at 66th Street and Highway 370 led to a state run traffic study and at noon today, new stop lights went on line...including turn signals on both 370 and 66th Street.

“Traffic lights were absolutely necessary there to increase the safety of all the drivers on 370,” Captain Culler said.

MacKenna Brown said it’s a change for the better.

“I like the new lights because in the mornings it’s really hard to turn left onto 370 so I can go to school at Bellevue University,” she said. “So the lights will make it a lot easier for that.”

A signal change warning light alerts eastbound travelers on Highway 370 that the light is about to change.

The county is also considering changes at the intersection of 370 and 60th Street which also has a history of crashes.