“Interstate Route Shift Would Cost 50 Million,” South Omaha Sun, 19 March 1959.
Topics: planning; relocation; right of way
Interstate Route Shift Would Cost 50 Million
It would cost Omaha taxpayers 50 to 60 million dollars to build a trafficway system within the city if the Interstate highway were routed around instead of through Omaha.
The estimate was made this week by city officials as they defended plans for bringing the Interstate superhighway through Omaha. The plan has been under fire from State Senators William Skarda of Omaha and Terry Carpenter of Scottsbluff. The “through” route also has been criticized by others in Omaha.
Early this week, the two senators sought to prevent the construction of the Interstate through Omaha. They want it sent around the metropolitan area.
City Planning Director Alden Aust told the Sun Newspapers this week that if the senators are successful in their attempt at changing the Interstate plans, “the taxpayers of Omaha will have to come up with from 50 to 60 million dollars to get the same highway they will be getting from Federal and State funds.
“The people of Omaha are already paying for the Interstate [text obscured] It back to solve some of the local traffic problems,” he said.
Aust expressed a fear that a change in the Interstate plans would cost the city more than the replacement figures. He said, “The reason for bringing the Interstate into Omaha is that people, according to surveys, want to come to Omaha, not just around it.”
“If we don’t get the trucks into the livestock market, Omaha is going to lose that market.
“And if we can’t get traffic to the wholesale area, Omaha will lose that market also.”
He indicated he did not believe the attempts at the change by the senators would meet with much success. Aust said, “There suggestion is opposed to the entire Interstate program and I doubt Federal officials would go along with it. The idea is to connect major population centers, not merely to go around them.”
The Skarda-Carpenter move followed closely on the heels of the announcement of the State Highway department that it would soon move into Omaha to make the first steps in acquiring right-of-way for the Interstate system.
Deputy State Engineer Henry Schlitt told the Sun his department could not set a definite starting date although he expects the operation to start “very shortly.”
He said the work will begin as soon as arrangements are made to secure appraisers. Efforts are being made now to line up independent appraisers in Omaha. The operation will be under the direction of state officials.
Schlitt said the acquisition will follow three steps: determination of ownership, appraisal and purchase, the actual buying of right-of-way will closely follow the completion of appraisals.
Along the route of the Interstate toward Omaha, appraisals of property between 96th and 72nd streets are completed, according to the state officials. He said negotiations for the purchase of the property is expected to start soon.
Nearer Omaha, between 72nd and 60th streets and 48th and 32nd streets, appraisers will soon begin their work, Schlitt said. The gap—60th to 48th—is not quite ready for the start of the purchasing operation.
Planning Director Aust said that although the state could give no definite time for the start of the right-of-way buying in Omaha, he interpreted the announcement as an indication that construction contracts would be let by the state for part of the Interstate in Omaha next year.
He agreed with the suggestion of City Council President A.V. Sorensen that those people who must be moved form the path of the Interstate should receive city help. He said, “They are certainly entitled to all of the information and assistance as possible.”
He added, “The problem of the people who are to be relocated is a two-state affair. First, they must settle with the state which must buy their property at a fair price. Secondly, with cash in hand they must find a new home and that is where the city and housing officials will help in finding them a new home.
“We don’t expect a housing shortage and no one will be thrown out on the streets. The problem will be one of price range and location.”
Schlitt said he could not say where the actual purchasing of land would start. He said it would depend on the outcome of the appraisals, although hardship cases will probably be handled first.