Whew! That wasn't too bad.
A long, midtown stretch of Omaha's main thoroughfare, Dodge Street, lost three of its five lanes Monday, courtesy of a major resurfacing project. And the usual heavy morning commute on eastbound Dodge into downtown apparently disappeared with the lanes, too.
“Usually over the first couple of days (of a project), you expect a learning curve while drivers are getting used to the change,'' said Tim O'Bryan, construction engineer for the City of Omaha.
But at 7:30 a.m., what would normally be the height of the rush hour, westbound traffic out of downtown was heavier than eastbound traffic into downtown. One motorist drove from 72nd Street east on Dodge at the posted 35 mph speed limit to Park Avenue before stopping for a traffic signal.
City officials had warned drivers to consider alternate routes into downtown, suggesting already heavily traveled Interstate 80 or Cuming, Farnam and Leavenworth Streets for their eastbound commutes.
Dodge Street from 29th to 52nd Streets is scheduled to be restricted to two lanes – one eastbound and one westbound – for at least eight weeks. The restriction is due to milling and resurfacing work by Omni Construction.
The project should wrap up on schedule – by the end of October at the latest – “as long as we have good weather and no major equipment breakdowns,'' O'Bryan said.
Work crews were hard at it before 8 a.m. Monday, grinding off layers of Dodge Street east of 52nd.
“Once we get a couple of days under our belts,'' work on Dodge Street should pick up steam, O'Bryan said.
Early Monday, the three lanes on the south side of Dodge from 52nd east to 29th were closed, leaving just two lanes on the north side of Dodge for head-to-head, east-west traffic.
Just east of the University of Nebraska Omaha, orange-and-white traffic barrels began winnowing eastbound motorists into one eastbound lane at 52nd Street. At 24th Street, westbound motorists out of downtown were gradually eased by traffic barrels into one lane of head-to-head traffic.
Omaha police urged motorists to be patient while the project is under way.
Police urged motorists to allow for extra commute time if they use Dodge Street or an alternate route. And motorists also should be aware of dump trucks and other maintenance equipment during the resurfacing work, police said.
If this bottleneck is on your way to work, what are you going to do for the next two months? Stoically slog through your normal route? Find a new way to work? Call in sick until December? Let us know in the comments section below.