OMAHA, NE – With nearby interchanges experiencing operational and capacity challenges expected to worsen with current and future development, the Omaha Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) and Sarpy County retained Benesch to conduct a Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) Study that would identify a location for a new interchange along Interstate 80. The study recently received acknowledgement from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), bringing Sarpy County one step closer to a new interchange.
The study evaluated the need to relieve operational and safety deficiencies at existing interchanges along I-80 from Pflug Road to the Nebraska Highway 370 interchange. In looking for new interchange locations, potential environmental red flags were identified. The Benesch Team incorporated NEPA into the study, developing a range of alternatives, resulting in a series of six alternatives to proceed into alternatives screening. Two interchanges, 168th & Schram and 192nd & Capehart, were ultimately recommended to be carried forward into the NEPA decision-making process.
“The study was recognized by FHWA and the partner agencies for a very robust public engagement process that brought together all the agencies, the public and project sponsors,” said Project Manager Craig Mielke. “This engagement process enabled us to discuss items such as existing and future land use, development and growth policies and plans, as well as identify key features that were of primary importance to the residents and traveling public alike.”
The acknowledgement from the FWHA is a key milestone for the effort as it recognized that the study followed the PEL process as outlined in their guidance and in NDOT’s state process. FHWA has also acknowledged that certain pieces of the study materials can be pulled forward into the next step of the project. The recommended interchanges can now advance into preliminary design, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation, and an Interchange Justification Report (IJR).
On March 8, Mielke will be presenting on the study at the Nebraska Planning Conference. Registration and presentation details can be found here.