It will be another year before the road construction begins on Grand Island’s Capital Avenue widening project, but preparatory work is already underway.

Grand Island Public Works Director John Collins told members of the Regional Planning Commission Wednesday night that utilities will be relocated this year to get ready for the 2015 construction of three new traffic lanes on Capital Avenue from Broadwell Avenue to Webb Road.

The year after that, the two existing asphalt lanes will be removed and replaced with new concrete, completing the five-lane project.

“There is a public information meeting on this next Wednesday,” Collins told the commission.

The meeting will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the United Veterans Club, Memorial Hall, 1914 W. Capital Ave. A special half-hour presentation will be given at 5:45.

Grand Island Public Works Department Project Manager Scott Griepenstroh and Olsson Associates Project Manager Matt Rief will discuss the project and show the right of way that is needed, primarily from property owners on the south side of Capital Avenue.

Griepenstroh said the largest sections of right of way needed are on the west end of the project by Long Leaf Apartments and on the east end of the project near a car wash and car lot. Those areas are the most impacted because the roadway has to be shifted to line up between the new five-lane project and roads of varying widths on either side of the project.

Besides the five lanes — two lanes in each direction and a center turning lane — the project also includes curb, storm sewer, roadway lighting and a hike and bike trail. The city’s new north interceptor sewer line will also be installed in right-of-way easements this year along Capital Avenue before the road widening construction takes place in 2015.

Collins said the actual acquisition of the Capital Avenue right-of-way easements is expected to begin in April.

He outlined the city’s other road improvements planned for 2014 and the following five years.

Commissioner Craig Vincent questioned the widening of Webb Road from Stolley Park Road north to the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. It’s a road improvement that was requested by Webb Road business owners, including Tom Dinsdale.

Vincent wanted the project to go farther north to Highway 30.

Collins said the city is in favor of the widening all the way to Highway 30, but doing so would require special agreements with the railroad that would likely take about two years to get.

“We had to cut it off there to meet the (business owners) timeline,” Collins said of stopping the widening at the railroad tracks.

Vincent also asked about the long-term plans to widen and improve Sky Park Road, including the addition of lighting and upgrading the roadway to serve as an alternate truck route. He asked if Central Nebraska Regional Airport could contribute financially toward improving Sky Park Road, which runs directly in front of the airport.

Collins said the airport won’t provide direct funds, but does indirectly provide funds through the $158 million of economic impact it has on the city.

Regional Planning Director Chad Nabity said Sky Park Road is a city street and has been so since 2002 when Grand Island annexed the airport. The city is responsible for maintenance and upkeep on city streets, he said.

The commission recommended in favor of the city’s one- and six-year road plan, which will be forwarded to the Grand Island City Council for final approval.

It also recommended in favor of the next 53 lots of the Copper Creek housing subdivision.

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