The Lincoln County commissioners want to improve Eugene Ave., a narrow two-lane blacktop on the south side of I-80 in North Platte, but it is no simple task.
Residents, notably retired engineer Michael Cook, routinely come before the commissioners and ask that the road be widened, pointing out that vehicles have had to veer into the ditch to avoid the danger of a collision because the road is so narrow.
Cook speaks most every year at the public hearing when the one- and six-year road plans are publicized, asking county officials to do something.
The “avenue” is more than a mile long and most of it lies within the North Platte city limits, complicating the situation. Also, trees, front yards and fences adjoin the shallow ditches, which would have to be moved and/or rebuilt if the road were widened.
And, the costs of the job would be considerable.
Faced with the challenges and persistent complaints, the commissioners agreed early in the year to do something to help lessen traffic and re-route trucks over to a parallel road built to handle heavier traffic.
The commissioners considered posting a sign at each end of Eugene that says no trucks, or posting a relatively low weight limit, or closing Eugene at Buffalo Bill Ave. on the west end, so there were be no outlet, discouraging thru-traffic from using the road at all.
After lengthy discussion Monday, July 27, they agreed to post a lower weight limit on the road and reduce the speed limit to 25 miles an hour.
County Road Superintendent Carla O’Dell said she had discussed the situation with her counterpart at the city, Public Services Director Layne Groseth, who said he would cooperate as much as possible, so posting the signs on city property should be no problem.
Local truckers who need to use Eugene to reach their headquarters would be exempted.
Cook called it a short-term solution, and the commissioners agreed.
“I don’t see any of the three options solving the problem,” Cook said. “They just put off the inevitable. The obvious solution is to improve Eugene Ave.”
“We know,” Commissioner Kent Weems replied. “But we can’t widen the road today. At least we can make an effort to mitigate the problems in the short term, and still not interfere with (those who use the road for) business.”
Deputy Lincoln County Attorney Joe Wright said an official “speed study” would have to be conducted and publicized, so the public could learn in advance of the change of the speed limit.
The commissioners unanimously agreed to move toward making the changes as fast as they legally can.