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Dozens came out to the American Legion post in Columbus on Tuesday to weigh in on the 23rd Street corridor revamp efforts.

This was the second informational open house the Nebraska Department of Transportation has hosted for the project. The plan is to reconstruct about 2.69 miles of the existing pavement on 23rd Street starting just east of the north junction of U.S. Highway 81 and 23rd Street, and extending just east of the East 11th Avenue intersection, as previously reported.

As previously reported by The Columbus Telegram, work would also include reconstruction of sidewalks, curb ramps, curb inlets and storm sewers. Additionally, roadway lighting and traffic signals would be updated. Construction is tentatively scheduled for a couple years down the line, according to NDOT. The proposed project would be constructed under traffic with lane closures controlled via approved traffic control.

NDOT District 3 Engineer Kevin Domogalla said adjustments have been made to the project based off of feedback from the previous open house. Storm sewer replacements and upgrades were added to the plan along with additional consideration for delivery truck access for specific locations.

“We’ve gotten a few revisions, refined the project from some of our comments that we had gotten from our last one,” Domogalla said. “Our original meeting was more of a concept meeting. We had promised that we’d come back with a more detailed plan, and that’ what we’re doing now, rolling it out for everybody.”

Rich Schmidt is a facility manager at Vishay, located right along 23rd in Columbus. He attended the event with concerns of how the construction would affect people coming to and from work.

“Just trying to see what they got planned, what’s going on as far as how they’re going to shut it down so our employees can come and go,” Schmidt said. “It’s good that they're keeping us informed, (but) it’s not going to be fun when it happens.”

The Columbus City Council decided to invest $500,000 from the city's general fund toward streetscaping in the same vicinity while the NDOT project is happening. Representatives for the beautification project were also present at the open house. Don Dressen and his wife, Kathy Dreesen, are in the real estate business. The couple attended the open house and said 23rd Street would greatly benefit from beautification work (Don has participated in the planning meetings for the streetscaping effort).

“It’s an embarrassment, that street always has been,” Don Dressen said about the current state of 23rd Street. “It’s really something that needs to be done to beautify that street when you come into town … make people decide to live here who otherwise wouldn’t."

Kathy Dressen said she is concerned with trash currently ending up on the side of the road and with the greenery along the street. She hopes the city's project will solve those issues.

“Oh I definitely think it needs it,” Kathy Dressen said about the project. “You come here in the summer and those islands out there -- they’re full of weeds a foot-and-a-half tall.”

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at

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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News-Review.

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