A whoop went up from one of the employees at Kohll's Pharmacy at 50th and Dodge Streets Sunday morning when she found out that motorists would no longer have to navigate orange barricades in front of the store.
Pharmacist Katie Kerl turned and gave her co-worker a smile.
“We did have some employees who had to increase their drive time to work because they weren't sure what they would find,” Kerl said in an interview. “Some of our customers would even call ahead and ask for (driving) suggestions, but I'd say we came through (the project) all right.”
The Dodge Street resurfacing project from 52nd Street to Turner Boulevard officially wrapped up at 9 a.m. Sunday with the removal of the last barricades along Omaha's major artery. The work began Sept. 16. The $2.5 million project was estimated to take eight weeks but was completed 30 working days ahead of schedule.
There was no financial incentive for completing the project early. But there would have been penalties for not completing it on time.
Greg Armstrong, vice president of field operations for Swain Construction, credited long hours by the company's crews and subcontractors for the early finish. All five lanes of Dodge between 52nd Street and Turner Boulevard were resurfaced.
“We just came with a plan and activated that plan pretty precisely,” Armstrong said. “We had all the right people on the job, and we knew what a priority job it was.”
Armstrong said crews often worked seven days a week. They also worked from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. “about six days a week,” he said.
He said the company worked with the Omaha Public Works officials to keep the project on track. “That helped us work hand-in-hand to keep things moving,” Armstrong said.
The Dodge Street section was one of 10 Omaha street projects funded with $6.4 million in state road maintenance funds. Mayor Jean Stothert has said the funding is speeding up progress on road repairs. “The state's money allowed us to repair one of the city's busiest streets without using money in the city's street repair budget,” Stothert said in a press release.
The resurfacing not only slowed traffic on Dodge but business at some retailers.
Regina Trujillo, manager of the Mega Saver convenience store at 4108 Dodge St., said the store “slowed down just a little bit” during the past four weeks.
“Overall, our business was pretty much normal and that was really a surprise,” Trujillo said. “I'm glad it's over though, and the street looks great.”
Business did take a hit at Beyond BBQ, 4646 Dodge St., while the lanes in front of the restaurant were blocked off, according to owner Edward Goebig. He said Sunday's reopening was “definitely good” news.
“Our sales were way down on some days. It just kind of depended on what was going on (out front),” Goebig said. “We're hoping that everyone realizes (the project) is over, and we can return to normal.”
One Omahan sorry to see the project end sat on a lawn near 38th and Dodge Streets, spinning the wheels on his cobalt blue skateboard. T.J. Jackson, 14, said he'd “gone a ways” down the street on his Apex 37 DiamondDrop long board while the lanes were finished but still blocked off.
“It was pretty cool out there for a while,” T.J. said. “I kind of had my own obstacle course.”