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City of Omaha to begin 156th Street expansion project

The city of Omaha closes part of 14th Street for up to three years

City of Omaha engineers to kick off more than a year of construction to widen 156th Street from Pacific Street to Wycliffe Drive, a project that will complete the four-lane expansion of a Key West Omaha traffic artery .

The $8.6 million project will add a reservation, sidewalks, curbs and turn lanes along a nearly 1-mile stretch of road separating the Piedmont-Wycliffe and Fountain Hills-Pacific Meadows subdivisions. It will also be the subject of a briefing Thursday hosted by the city’s public works department at Millard North High School. The meeting takes place from 17:30 to 19:30

When completed, the project should improve access to Kiewit Middle School, located along the route. Engineers are adding an entrance from 156th Street north of the existing one from Howard Street.

New streetlights will illuminate the new sidewalks and pedestrian signals at the intersection of 155th Avenue and Fountain Hills Drive/Leavenworth Street will be upgraded to full traffic lights. Intersections there and at Howard Street will be marked with stripes and marked as school zones.

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The project also includes the reconstruction of Pacific Street at its intersection with 156th Street to add a second eastbound left-turn lane.

The first phase of the project will begin March 6 and will involve closures on 156th Street from Pacific to Howard Streets, said Austin Rowser, with the City of Omaha Public Works Department. Even if detours will be necessary, he said, at least one entrance to the middle school will remain open.

“It will be closed in sections, because it has good access to the neighborhood,” Rowser said.

Public comments posted on the Public Works website raised concerns about noise and possible impacts on trees and fences for residents whose homes line 156th Street. Pedestrian safety, particularly around Kiewit Middle School, was also a concern.

City officials pointed to lighting, sidewalk and signal improvements near the school and said any fences disturbed by the construction will be replaced by the city.

Several residents have requested a traffic light at the junction of Wycliffe Drive and Nottingham Drive, but engineers said current and projected future traffic levels do not warrant one.

An anonymous commenter said they were ready for the project to start.

“20 years too late. Close the road and ‘Take R Dun’,” wrote the commentator.

Construction is expected to continue through late spring of 2024. The latest project follows a two-year project to widen 1.2 miles of 156th Street from West Dodge Expressway north of Blondo Street. Once the new project is finished, 156th will be four lanes wide from West Maple Road to its cul-de-sac at Pacific.

In recent years, the city has invested millions in expanding north-south commuter streets such as 168th Street and 180th Street to accommodate new growth in western Omaha and improve flow to the freeway.

A similar project to expand 168th Street to four lanes between Q Street and West Center Road will also begin this spring, with a pre-construction public hearing scheduled for 4-6 p.m. March 2 at Hope Presbyterian Church.

Photo: Omaha Streets and How They Got Their Names

dodge street

Dodge Street: Dodge was believed to be named after United States Senator Augustus Caesar Dodge, of Iowa, who supported the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, along with Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, after whom Douglas Street is named. The 1854 act established the two territories, opened up new lands, repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820, and allowed new settlers to decide whether they would allow slavery. But, over the years, the origin of the street’s name has become less clear, and many have disputed what they called the pro-slavery stances of Augustus Caesar Dodge. And so, in 2016, an effort was launched to officially name Dodge Street in honor of Civil War Brig. Gen. Grenville Mellen Dodge and his brother, real estate pioneer NP Dodge. Those efforts were approved by the city, county and state in 2016.

Jones Street

Jones Street: Alfred D. Jones took the first survey of Omaha City in 1854. As Omaha’s first postmaster, the lawyer was said to carry the mail in his hat.

Via Johnny Rodgers

Via Johnny Rodgers: Marlin Briscoe, left, and Johnny Rodgers pose for a photo before a ceremony to rename a section of Burt Street, between 30th and 33rd Streets, Johnny Rodgers Street, July 30, 2015. to know more

Capitol Avenue

Campidoglio Avenue: This route led from the Missouri River to Nebraska’s second territorial capital, located atop a hill near 20th and Dodge Streets. That building was replaced by Omaha High School in 1872, then by the school’s second building, which was completed in 1912. Omaha High School is now known as Omaha Central High School.

Via Mike Fahey

Via Mike Fahey: Fahey, pictured in 2009 at the ceremony that rebranded seven blocks of Webster Street from 10th Street to Creighton University as Mike Fahey Street, has been the city’s longest-serving mayor since the city charter was passed by voters in 1956.

AV Sorensen Parkway

AV Sorensen Parkway: Omaha businessman Axel Vergman Sorensen, mayor from 1965 to 1969, presided over a convention in 1956 that wrote the city’s current government charter.

via Farnam

Via Farnam: Originally Omaha’s main drag, Farnam Street was named after railroad promoter Henry Farnam.

Blvd Bob Gibson

Blvd Bob Gibson: Bob Gibson speaks after the 1999 dedication of the street named after him. Deer Park Boulevard near Rosenblatt Stadium has been renamed Bob Gibson Boulevard in honor of the former St. Louis Cardinal pitching great and Hall of Fame inductee. to know more

Avenue Neal Mosser

Avenue Neal Mosser: The stretch of Cuming Street from 30th to 33rd Streets was named after longtime Tech High basketball coach Neal Mosser in 2005. His tenure as coach spanned from 1948 to the late 1960s and he was recognized as a positive influence on countless athletes, including Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson and NBA star and Olympic gold medalist Bob Boozer.

Bud Crawford street

Via Bud Crawford: Larimore Avenue between 31st Avenue and 33rd Street was designated Terence “Bud” Crawford Street. The professional boxer was born and raised in that stretch of Larimore. to know more

Avenue Millardo

Millard Avenue: Ezra Millard was president of the Omaha National Bank, which he organized in 1866. In 1871, he bought the land that would become Millard’s.

Carol Van Meter Lane

Carol Van Meter Lane: Named in honor of the late Carol Van Metre, who worked to ensure Omaha children had parks and fields to play in. It winds east from 24th Street to Woolworth Avenue and leads to Columbus Park, the Columbus Community Center, and Van Meter Field, named after Carol’s husband Dave. to know more

College World Series Ave

College World Series Avenue: The section of 13th Street between Cuming Street and Mike Fahey Street was renamed College World Series Avenue in 2011 as a permanent reminder that TD Ameritrade Park is the headquarters of the CWS. to know more

Via Dave Rimington

Via Dave Rimington: Mayor Mike Fahey with football great and philanthropist Dave Rimington, an Omaha South graduate, during the dedication of the 20th Street to 24th Street section of L Street as Dave Rimington Street in 2002. Rimington redefined the central Nebraska location, winning two Outland Trophies and a Lombardi Award before launching a seven-year NFL career. to know more

Boyd Street

Via Boyd: James E. Boyd served as mayor of Omaha twice in the 1880s. The Irish immigrant became governor of Nebraska in 1890.

Via California

Via California: Prospectors heading west for California landed near this road after crossing the Missouri River.

Cuming Street

Cuming Street: Nebraska Territory Secretary and Acting Governor Thomas B. Cuming convened the first Nebraska Territorial Legislature in Omaha in 1854, making Omaha the capital.

Via Harney

Via Harney: At the outbreak of the Civil War, General William S. Harney was commander of the Department of the West.

Kyle Wayne LeFlore Street

Via Kyle Wayne LeFlore: The block of 29th Street between Fowler Ave and Meredith Ave was renamed Kyle Wayne LeFlore Street in honor of Sgt. LeFlore on July 20, 2018. LeFlore was shot and killed in Omaha while on vacation from the Army. to know more

Marlin Briscoe Way

Marlin Briscoe Way: Marlin Briscoe, the NFL’s first black starting quarterback and Omaha South High School graduate, was honored with a street named in his honor. to know more

Military Avenue

Military Avenue: This portion of the original Overland Trail wound through Omaha and Benson beginning in 1857. It was used to move military supplies to Fort Kearny and by settlers heading northwest. In 1994, part of Military Road near 82nd and Fort Streets was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Avenue Minne Lusa

Viale Minne Lusa: Minne Lusa is a Native American term meaning “clear water”. On the street was a pumping station of Florence. An elementary school of the same name stands today near Minne Lusa Boulevard.

Paxton Blvd

Paxton Avenue: William A. Paxton, known as the “true founder of South Omaha,” organized the Union Stockyards Company. He co-founded Paxton & Gallagher Wholesale Grocery, became part owner of Paxton & Vierling Iron Works and served in the Nebraska Legislature. The Paxton Hotel was named for him.

Poppleton Ave

Poppleton Avenue: Andrew Jackson Poppleton, a member of the 1st Territorial Legislature, was involved in deciding the location of the territorial capital. Counsel successfully represented Bear standing in Chief Ponca’s 1879 trial. Poppleton was mayor of Omaha three times.

Saddle Creek Road

Saddle Creek Road: This sounds like it could be a tall tale, right? Details are scarce, but apparently a man was heading west from Omaha to make his fortune mining for gold. He didn’t get very far before a saddle fell off his chariot and into a creek that then flowed through the area. Hence the name Saddle Creek.

Woolworth Ave

Woolworth Avenue: Attorney James Woolworth helped develop the South Omaha stockyards. He wrote and published “The History of Omaha” in 1857. The city was only three years old.

Fred Astaire Ave

On May 11, 2019, the day after what would have been dance and acting legend Fred Astaire’s 120th birthday, Omaha honored its native son with its own street. The Fred Astaire Avenue sign is visible on 10th Street at Martha Street, less than a block from Astaire’s birthplace. The family moved from Omaha to New York City in 1905.

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