Feds freeze study of road construction through Sarpy
A study to guide construction of a new highway cutting across southern Sarpy County has been frozen for 16 months, and County Board member Tom Richards said the delay will spell trouble once the new Missouri River bridge opens next fall.
“We're going to have trucks sitting at our doorstep in less than a year,” he said. “Something's got to give here pretty quick.”
Sarpy County Public Works Director Dennis Wilson told the County Board that the federal government, which is funding 80 percent of the $160,000 study, ordered the freeze in August 2012 when the county extended the study's scope west from 144th Street to Highway 31 in Gretna.
Wilson said jurisdictions that use federal funding for local projects must deal with federal requirements.
“It's just become such a difficult, arduous task to try and get through the various hoops that the federal government has set up,” Wilson said.
Richards suggested that if federal delays last much longer, the county should end the partnership and pay for the study itself.
But County Administrator Mark Wayne said the county would forfeit hundreds of millions of dollars in construction funding if it did not comply with the Federal Highway Administration's directive.
The project would rebuild Platteview Road from Highway 75 at Bellevue to Highway 31 at the west end of the county. It could involve 18 miles of four-lane, divided highway designed to carry truck traffic coming into Sarpy County from Interstate 29 after the Highway 34 bridge opens.
Wilson said the study will yield five alternatives, each with cost estimates, and that the federal government will have the final say over which one is selected.
Board Chairman Jim Warren said the study should have commenced years ago, when it became clear the new Missouri River bridge might become a reality.
“Assuming everything is approved and we get several hundred million dollars for a road project, is it five years out, 10 years out?” he asked. “I don't think you can do it in five.”
Ralston council seeks input on three-animal pet ordinance
The Ralston City Council is seeking input on a proposed ordinance to change the city's pet ownership rules.
The ordinance, which passed a first reading on a 4-2 vote, would allow residents to keep up to three dogs or cats, in any combination. Current rules allow residents to keep three pets, but only in a set combination: up to two cats and one dog, or up to two dogs and one cat.
The issue arose when a new resident realized she wouldn't be able to keep all three of her dogs.
Bellevue delays vote on cat colonies management permit
The Bellevue City Council has delayed a vote on establishing permits for people to manage colonies of wild cats. The council is due to vote Jan. 13.
Councilwoman Kathy Saniuk said some requirements in the proposal might be too stringent, including one requiring a feral cat colony to be reduced by half within two years.
Saniuk said the additional time would allow her to research how other cities have managed the matter.