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It’s a bird, it’s a plane and no, that’s not a new bike trail in the middle of I-80

Asphalt strip is base for cable guard rails that will be installed to improve safety
Posted at 12:29 PM, Jul 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-02 13:29:53-04

LINCOLN, Neb. (Nebraska Examiner) — No, that unusual-looking, 22-mile-long strip of fresh asphalt in the middle of the Interstate 80 median west of Lincoln is not a new bicycle trail.

State transportation officials have been getting calls in recent weeks asking about “the new bike trail,” a strip of asphalt about three feet wide, recently laid down in the median from the Pleasant Dale exit to Utica.

But Jeni Campana of the Nebraska Department of Transportation said Thursday that the asphalt trail is the “base” for a new cable guard rail that will installed soon between the two I-80 exits.

Bicycles not allowed

Riding bicycles is banned on Interstates in Nebraska, Campana said, and for safety reasons, a trail of any kind would never be installed in the median.

“The medians are there for engineering purposes and for safety purposes,” she said. “Unauthorized vehicles should not be turning around in medians.”

The installation of the cable guard rail is part of a $9.5 million project in that stretch of I-80, which includes improvements to culverts, dirt work and some paving. Garcia/Chicoine Enterprises, of Milford is doing the work, which is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

Campana said the state has utilized cable guard rails in the Omaha area, on the Kennedy Freeway/U.S. 75 in South Omaha and Sarpy County for about a decade, to prevent vehicles from crossing over the median and causing head-on collisions.

Crash data supported need

She said safety data indicated that the guard rails were needed in the stretch between Pleasant Dale and Milford. 

In March, three people were killed when a semi-trailer truck crossed the median causing a head-on collision, according to Lincoln television station KOLN/KGIN.

Campana said the cable guard rails were considered for I-80 from the west edge of Lincoln to Pleasant Dale, but that stretch is scheduled to be widened to six lanes, with work expected to begin in 2024. 

Concrete barriers are used in medians of six-lane Interstate in urban areas, Campana added, but cable guard rails were the “best tool” in the Pleasant Dale-Utica area, where the medians are 64 feet wide. 

Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Cate Folsom for questions: Follow Nebraska Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

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