News Flash

Columbus News

Posted on: July 20, 2023

Your Tax Dollars At Work: 48th Avenue undergoes massive improvements


Once considered one of the worst stretches of road in Columbus by many, drivers are now noticing cruising along 48th Avenue from 38th Street to Howard Boulevard is smooth sailing.


NOTE TO READERS: “Your Tax Dollars At Work” is a new ongoing series exploring how sales tax revenue helps the City of Columbus fund a variety of services, programs and projects to benefit the community at large.

Once considered one of the worst stretches of road in Columbus by many, drivers are now noticing cruising along 48th Avenue from 38th Street to Howard Boulevard is smooth sailing.

“The 4,000-foot segment from Howard Boulevard to 38th Street was near the top of the Pavement Management Program for replacement due to driving lane pavement failure,” City Engineer Rick Bogus said.

More specifically, the failure of the pavement was in the driving lanes due to an alkali-silica reaction in the concrete.

“It is a chemical reaction between some of the siliceous materials in the aggregate and the alkalinity of the concrete, which was common in concrete mixes in that era of placement in this region,” Bogus said.

The driving lanes had the majority of the traffic volume, which exasperated the pavement failure and allowed water to enter the subgrade. That caused additional failure from the freeze-thaw cycle, he noted.

Getting it done took creative solutions. The project was constructed over two fiscal-year budgets in order to allow improvements to be completed in other parts of the community. The total construction cost of the two fiscal-years project was $2.3 million but was covered thanks to sales tax and highway allocation funding.

Sales tax revenue goes a long way toward helping the City of Columbus helping improve the quality of life for its taxpayers, such as the 48th Avenue construction.

“Our sales tax revenue was approved by voters strictly for capital improvement projects, which includes infrastructure like 48th Avenue pavement,” City Administrator Tara Vasicek said. “Sales tax is not used to pay for everyday operations and maintenance of the City.”

The stretch of road from 38th Street to Howard Boulevard many years ago had been assessed as a Street Improvement District (SID), which requires property owners to pay a smaller percentage of improvements. So, this latest project was just repair.

“There was no assessment because they (property owners in that SID) were already assessed,” the city engineer said. “The City does not reassess property owners because the street fell apart because they already paid for it, so that’s why the City paid for it 100% this time.”

The 38th Street/48th Avenue intersection opened back up this week after crews finished up most of the work on the road (they were continuing to finalize things as of July 19th, 2023). Phasing the construction of the driving lane reconstruction allowed two lanes of through traffic to be maintained throughout the project.

“The center turn lane does not receive the same volume of traffic at the driving lanes and is not showing a need for replacement at this time,” Bogus said. “However, the City will continue to monitor the center turn lane pavement for signs of possible concrete stress and failure.” 

Of course, it’s worth noting 48th Avenue from Lost Creek Parkway down to Bradshaw Park has undergone a lot of improvement in phases over the last few years. The stretch of 48th Avenue north to Lost Creek Parkway, as well as a small segment near the intersection of 48th Avenue and 23rd Street and then another segment from 23rd Street to Bradshaw Park, were all classified as separate street improvement districts (SID).

This reconstructed arterial corridor directly connects Lost Creek Parkway, Columbus Community Hospital, U.S. Highway 81 and Bradshaw Park, as well as several businesses and residential subdivisions, and Bradshaw Park. 

“Looking over the past few years at the larger 48th Avenue segment from Lost Creek Parkway to Bradshaw Park, we have replaced or widened 2 miles,” Bogus said of the overall scope. “Eighty-seven (87) percent or $5.9 million of the $6.8 million pavement and storm sewer system project cost in this corridor was paid for by utilizing city sales tax, highway allocation funds, and Federal Funds Purchase Program funding.”

These three SIDs along 48th Avenue were assessed for a portion of the reconstruction because they had not been assessed before, the city engineer said.

But, he added, like the SID from 38th Street to Howard Boulevard along 48th Avenue before them, property owners in these three SIDs will not be assessed again when repairs are eventually needed. As of July 2023, State statute does not allow property owners within an SID to be assessed more than once for the same kind of work.

City officials said they’re appreciative of voters approving sales tax revenue as it solely funds all capital items for for public safety, streets and parks and more.

They also said they understand the public’s frustration with road construction (such as the Nebraska Department of Transportation’s 23rd Street project), but that they believe the improvements will ultimately make for better and safer roadways.


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