The closure of a section of Nebraska 15 through David City became reality on Thursday, June 1, marking the start of a detour that will require caution as drivers adjust to barricades, barrels and new four-way stops at intersections.
Workers with Trafcon Inc. of Lincoln hauled in barricades and orange barrels to redirect vehicles through a detour east of the highway. Then, at around 2:45 p.m. Thursday, Nebraska 15 was closed off at Iowa Street and D Street, with traffic sent two blocks east to Sixth Street.
The first 24 hours of detour had some issues with semis coming through town and turning corners with limited space. By Friday afternoon, the Nebraska Department of Roads had installed electronic signs to alert semi drivers that they need to take another highway route.
The detour represented an adjustment for local drivers, who have had to watch for new stop signs along Sixth Street. Each corner between D and Iowa streets became a four-way stop, and parking was prohibited along some blocks.
It also became clear that the detour would immediately have an effect on a few businesses. Amigo’s is a block north of the Iowa Street road closure. Customers can still reach the restaurant by way of Third Street from the west. Runza is south of the barricades at D Street, as is the exit for First National Bank’s drive through teller lane. On Friday afternoon, the block between C and D was partially opened so that vehicles could reach businesses on the block.
In the downtown area, drivers going east on D Street will notice that the center street parking has ended east of Fifth Street, and a four way-stop sign awaits drivers at Sixth Street, where the highway travelers will turn south.
Construction between Iowa and C streets on Nebraska 15 is expected to take two months. The project involves tearing out the entire highway surface and installing underground storm sewers. As the road is completed going north, the detour will eventually moved to A Street.
“It’s important to remember that the detour is just a temporary detour and not forever,” said Demi Bartunek, director of the Butler County Chamber of Commerce, “The end goal is for the betterment of the community as a whole. Downtown businesses and those along the highway will remain open during construction. It is not ideal, but we ask that residents continue to shop local and support area businesses.”
A few semis weaved through the traffic on Thursday afternoon, but a Trafcon employee said that the trucking companies that regularly use the route through David City were notified to send their trucks on alternate routes. It was apparent much of the day Friday that the semis were still choosing to drive through the city. That meant that there were some instances where semi drivers had to wait for other vehicles to move before getting around tight corners.
David City employees took down the street lights along the highway as the Trafcon employees updated speed limit signs and installed detour signs.
Constructors Inc. of Lincoln is the main contractor for the combined $9 million project that encompasses rebuilding seven blocks of Nebraska 15 and a complete renovation of streets and underground infrastructure on 11 blocks of downtown David City. The design firm for the project is Leo A Daly of Omaha. The completion date is Dec. 1, 2018.
Butler County Sheriff Marcus Siebken said last week that he expected traffic numbers to increase on county roads around David City. He urged caution on those gravel county roads, especially after rainfall.
He also reminded drivers that fines double for speeding violations in work zones.