Fall weather greeted 50 bicycle riders on the second annual Butler County Half Century Bicycle Ride on Saturday.
Organizers are still assessing the success of the ride, which had several goals: raise funds for local youth and family related projects, provide a fun outdoor activity and promote the attractions of Butler County to visitors from across the region and state.
Ride coordinator Angie Peirce said that the reactions in rider surveys were positive. Because it’s still a new event, the ride committee is looking for ways to improve it and grow its numbers. Whether the ride continues in its current form or with changes next year has yet to be determined.
“Our committee of volunteers puts in a lot of time in preparations, and we have to determine how we can get more riders and accomplish our other goals,” Peirce said. “We know our riders had a good time and our volunteers did a great job representing Butler County.”
About half of the riders came from more than 50 miles away, including from Omaha, Ralston, Lincoln and Elkhorn. Several came from as far as Blue Hill and Hastings for the ride.
About half took the 55-mile route from David City through Bruno and Abie to Prague and then back on Nebraska 92. The other half of the riders made the round trip to Brainard, an ideal route for those who are new to cycling or aren’t conditioned for the hills.
For avid cyclists, the rolling hills on the 55-mile ride are among the best in the state, providing a challenge and beautiful scenery.
Organizations benefiting from this year’s ride proceeds are Blue Valley Community Action, Butler Believes in Youth and Community and Butler County TeamMates. Each of those organizations, plus others, provided volunteers to help make the ride a success.
The ride date is coordinated to avoid home Husker football game days at the beginning of fall to attract riders who enjoy the cooler fall weather. This year, a memorial ride was held Sunday in Lincoln for avid cyclist Randy Gibson, who was hit and killed by a car. The memorial ride may have prevented some riders from coming to Butler County.
No cyclists were injured in Saturday’s ride, although there was a report of a car “buzzing” two cyclists on the road south of Abie. Cyclists said the driver of the silver car, an older model, came within inches of their bikes and did not move the required 3 ½ feet to the left, even though the other lane was open. The incident happened about 9:30 a.m. Saturday south of Abie. It was reported to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.
The ride committee will provide more information about the ride in future editions of the newspaper.
Local residents have been watching the rebuilding of four blocks of Nebraska 15 and hoping that it can be opened soon.
Well, it can, mostly, but not completely.
The City Council indicated at its Sept. 27 Committee of the Whole meeting that the barricades will not be removed for highway traffic at Iowa Street, but that cross traffic on Nebraska, A, B and C streets soon will be able to flow. The date of the cross traffic opening has not been specified.
Street Supervisor Sod Rech told the Council that there was a lot of concern about sending semis up to the newly completed C Street intersection and then having them travel east past Butler County Welding, which will also have the challenge of the street torn up to its west. Also, he said, A Street will need to be open for grain trucks traveling east to Frontier Cooperative's facility at Yanka.
Rech said that trucks, which are supposed to avoid coming through David City, have already caused some damage to the corner of Sixth and Iowa. Moving the detour to C Street would likely result in damage to other curbs that are run over by trailers.
Al Hottovy, the project manager for Leo A Daly of Omaha, agreed.
“The advantage of keeping the detour in place longer is that any damage done to curbs or city streets will be limited to areas already affected,” Hottovy said in the firm’s most recent update. “This will reduce the amount spent on these repairs once the project is completed.”
Council members also questioned whether the restriping of the highway to three lanes all the way south to Aquinas was planned.
“The roadway has been converted to three lanes as instructed by the Nebraska Department of Transportation,” Hottovy said. “Numerous case studies have shown that the transition from a 4-lane undivided highway to a 3-lane highway with a center turn lane has significantly reduced traffic accidents.”
Daly’s update stated that the work is progressing on the highway north of C Street, and weather permitting, the crews will begin installing parking areas on the west side of the street. Crews from VanKirk Brothers have installed storm sewer pipes beyond E Street.
Daly has encouraged citizens with questions to call if they need information.
Project Manager Al Hottovy 402.390.4493, Project Engineer Jon McCarville 402.390.4422 and Construction Observer Greg Goldman 402.681.9451