“Road Work Ahead”

The construction on 180th and Blondo street has been an ongoing project for over a year

Roads, streets, avenues, boulevards. Projects are always occurring everywhere people drive. And the current construction on the intersection of 180th Street and Blondo Street is one of the largest in recent memory to those living in Elkhorn.

The final product will consist of a bridge that crosses over from Blondo street to the Old Lincoln Highway which are separated by a small creek. This will make commute times significantly faster for people living north of Blondo Street to get to Dodge Street. North 180th street, leading up to Elkhorn North, will also become a four lane road divided by a median.

“A new bridge structure will carry Blondo Street over Whispering Ridge Creek just east of the existing intersection with 180th Street,” Keep Omaha Moving said in an article. “Five-foot-wide sidewalks will be constructed behind the curb on both sides of the improved section of Blondo Street.”

Construction began in the spring of 2020 with tree clearing and viaduct structures around the 180th and Blondo intersection. Since then, the intersection, Old Lincoln Highway, and a portion of 180th Street leading North, have been closed to traffic. However, the leaders of the project have claimed that it is ahead of schedule.

“It’s a very heavily traveled corridor,” Douglas County Engineering Manager Dan Kutilek said in an article by WOWT. “We’ve coordinated with the city of Omaha and the improvements of 156th Street that recently just opened between Dodge and Maple.” The progress has gone very efficiently and is expected to be finished by the Fall of this year. A second phase will then begin, which will expand 180th Street leading up to Maple Street to a four lane road, but shouldn’t take nearly as long. Currently, 180th Street going up to Maple is a rural two-lane road that experiences heavy traffic as Omaha continues to expand westward. A four-lane road will make the flow of traffic much smoother.

A view of the construction from Blondo Street (Photo by Caleb Polking)

But any form of road construction comes at a price. And the people living in the surrounding area have had to make adjustments.

Nate Christoffels lives just to the east side of 180th street and has been able to witness the project throughout its duration. 

“Traffic has definitely increased in the neighborhood and on our street, 179th,” Christoffels said. “Cars use this road to avoid the construction and use it as an alternative outlet for the neighborhood.”

The constant working in the area has also been an annoyance to people living nearby like Christoffels and his family.

“The sound of construction vehicles early in the morning has been very annoying,” Christoffels said. “They are driving the steel into the ground for the foundation of the bridge and that has been very loud. Dust has picked up in the area as well and we have lost some of the natural wildlife like turkeys.”

Students going to Elkhorn North living in nearby subdivisions have also had to be flexible. Sophomore Luke Hunsberger has seen the construction as an irritation.

“The worst part about the construction is that I have to take a lengthened route to go to school every day,” Hunsberger said. “It has been a major pain with the construction. It is loud and obnoxious and it makes me take longer to get to school.”

These people have had to put up with setbacks for a couple years now, as the intersection of 168th and Blondo was an ongoing process just a couple of years ago. Transportation times have increased, construction has been loud, and several more issues have occurred.

Despite the long and annoying process of this project, however, the people living in this area feel it will be worth it when it’s completed.

“We will be happy with the convenience to Dodge and that the construction is done,” Christoffels said. “Blondo may open this fall and they will close the section to Maple. Let’s hope they are ahead of schedule!” 

“I am very excited for when the bridge can cross over because it will be a major time saver for me every day,” Hunsberger said.

People will finally be able to cross from Blondo over to Dodge via a bridge that is part of 180th Street once the project is done. This has been a vision sought after for many years, and the community is finally close to being able to have this benefit day after day.

“It’ll be exciting to get it finally open for the public,” Kutilek said.