The Grand Island City Council approved a one- and six-year street improvement plan that improves safety and traffic flow on some of the city’s most heavily traveled roads, such as Old Potash Road, North Road and Capital Ave.

City Public Works Director John Collins presented the street improvement plan to the council during a public hearing at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

Street improvements mentioned in the plan include:

— Old Potash Road improvements: North Road to Webb Road;

— Hwy 281 corridor: signal timing optimization;

— Sycamore underpass: South Front Street bridge deck replacement;

— Eddy Street underpass and associated bridges: rehab;

— North Road: 13th Street to Hwy 2, widening to three lanes;

— North Road: Old Potash to 13th Street, widening to three lanes;

— North Road: Hwy 30 to Old Potash, widening to three lanes;

— Capital Avenue: Moores Creek to North Road, widening to three lanes;

— Custer Avenue: Forrest Street to Old Potash Road, rehab;

— Broadwell Avenue/ Union Pacific Railroad, planning and environmental;

— Locust Street, reconstruction;

— Koenig Street to Fonner Park Road;

— Stolley Park Road;

— State Fair entrance to Stuhr Road;

— Independence Avenue;

— Capital Avenue to Manchester/Macron.

The estimated cost to the city for the six-year project is $60 million.

Collins said one of the highlights of the six-year plan is the work that will be done on improving Old Potash Road and North Road.

He said they hope to be bring bids to the council in March for work on the first part of the North Road improvement project. Collins said construction could start this spring.

He said there are three different improvement projects involving North Road — from Highway 2 to Highway 30 — that will be done over the next three to four years.

The project includes making North Road a three-lane road and putting roundabouts at the different intersections.

Collins said the work on Old Potash Road is “one that needs to be done to facilitate business, but construction will be detrimental to those businesses so we have to get it done fast to keep from harming those businesses any more than we have to.”

Public library progress report

In other business, Ed Meedel, Grand Island Public Library board president, and Library Director Steve Fosselman presented the library’s annual report to the council.

Both Meedel and Fosselman said 2019 was a big year for the library as work was completed on a $24 million facility renovation.

“Everything that we do, and we have a lot of activities, were influenced by the renovation project,” Fosselman said.

He said some of those renovations included a new teen area, a new makerspace, and a digital media lab.

“Those have been in use for several months now and are showing a lot of promise for our services,” he said.

The function of the library as a depository of books and magazines is still a big part of the library’s services, but over the last 30 years, Fosselman said, the library has become much more than that.

Of the 2.169 million patron uses of the library’s services last year, 314,209 were checkouts of books and other resources, but there more than 102,725 computer and wireless sessions and more than one million Facebook and Twitter reaches. There were 242,000 visitors to the library last year.

The annual report also showed the library’s collection, at 178,117 items, included 81,040 books, 35,022 ebooks, 13,712 audio items and 9,721 videos. There were 38,387 downloads of library resources, and 235 magazine and newspaper subscriptions.

Fosselman said the library’s parking lot and entrance were part of the renovation, which improved the public’s access and safety. He said an expanded community meeting room and commons area was also part of the project.

“That has really opened up our services as a community center,” Fosselman said. “It is an area where people can have informal meetings and have a lot of different activities in that space.”

This year, Fosselman sai.d the library board will be updating its strategic plan, which is called GI 2020.

“We are going to keep on working and making sure that every child is ready to read,” he said. “We will working on getting some authoritative fact-based services that will help people sift through some of the information that they get and help prevent information overload.”

Fosselman said the library board would also like to get the library’s community outreach services back up and going.

“It was something we use to have through the bookmobile,” he said. “We don’t have very many services that go out to the community, and we need to expand on that. We service every segment of our community. We are just not one place. We are 24/7 on the Internet with our website. We need to get out in our community as well.”

Honoring years of service

Mayor Roger Steele and the city council also honored Nick Mankle, senior power plant operator with the Utilities Department, for his 40 years of service with the City of Grand Island.

Mankle was hired as a power plant operator I on Feb. 12, 1980; was promoted to power plant operator II on May 15, 1983; and promoted to his current position of senior power plant operator on Oct. 4, 1992.

“We congratulate Mr. Mankle on his dedicated service to the City of Grand Island for the past 40 years,” Steele said.

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