An eight-month road project to widen North 144th Street between roughly West Dodge Road and Blondo Street earned high praise Thursday from Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle.
Standing on the northeast corner of 144th Street and Eldorado Drive, one block north of West Dodge Road, Suttle touted the benefits of expanding the heavily traveled route from two to four lanes.
In addition to widening 144th north from Eldorado Drive to Franklin Street, which is one block south of Blondo Street, road crews added turn lanes, a median, wide sidewalks and bike trails on the east and west sides of 144th. New traffic lights also were installed. All of it completed on schedule.
Suttle thanked Omahans for their patience during the 144th Street work, which reduced travel to one northbound and one southbound lane until the work was completed.
The mayor said the main complaints he received when he took office in 2009 centered on potholes and snow removal. Nearly 200 miles of Omaha roads have been upgraded during his tenure, and road complaints have declined, he said.
The improvements will have long-term benefits for the city, he said.
The tab for nearly one-mile of improvements to 144th Street project was $3.6 million, 80 percent of which was paid for with federal money. City bond funds paid the remaining 20 percent.
The mayor also touted other recent road jobs in Omaha that should enhance motorists' drives: the widening of the 10th Street bridge downtown and the improvement of 132nd Street from Davenport Street to West Dodge Road,
Suttle and city engineers also announced that bids went out Thursday on the next big roads project set to begin in March: the 1-year-long, four-lane extension north of 144th to about Eagle Run Drive, the upgrade of the 144th and Blondo Streets intersection and the widening of Blondo west from two to four lanes between 132nd to just west of 156th Street.
Other west Omaha roadwork in the city's future, according to engineers:
» Widening North 156th Street from two lanes to four between West Dodge and Blondo.
» Widening North 156th from two lanes to four from Blondo to Ohio Street.