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   from the issue of August 17, 2006

Traffic rolls across half of Big X


Summer construction has eliminated the 14th Street railroad crossing as a reason for campus tardiness.

Following a ribbon cutting ceremony Aug. 16, the north and west legs of the Big X opened to traffic. The Big X is an elevated roadway designed to direct traffic over the rail line and around City Campus. It is a portion of the $240 million Antelope Valley project, a joint effort between UNL, the City of Lincoln and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"As of August 16, 14th Street is closed to vehicular traffic at the railroad tracks," said Wayne Teten, Antelope Valley Project coordinator for the city. "There goes that old campus excuse used by those who were late for class or work."

The Big X is actually a Big L as it opened Aug. 16. The "L" links 14th Street south of campus to the elevated roadway near the Devaney Sports Center. At the top of the "L" traffic flows to and from downtown Lincoln. Campus commuters can use the "L" to gain access to parking on the east edge of campus, near Memorial Stadium.

In mid- to late-October, the Big L will become a Big T as the south leg links the elevated roadway to 17th Street, near the northeast side of Nebraska Hall. The Big X is scheduled for completion in 2010 as the east leg will connect the roadway to 27th Street via State Fair Park. Work on the east leg is scheduled to begin in 2007.

Teten said pedestrian traffic continues to cross the 14th Street rail line. However, that will change when the south leg of the Big X opens in October.

"When the south leg opens, the 14th Street crossing will be fenced off and no one will be crossing there," Teten said.

Faculty, staff and students who park north of the 14th Street crossing will have the option of walking on the 10th Street overpass to the west or crossing via pedestrian bridges that allow east passage under the Big X and railroad tracks.

While work continues on the south leg Teten said, a pedestrian crossing is in use at the base of the west leg.

When completed, the Antelope Valley Project will include roadways from 14th Street and Cornhusker Highway to 19th and K streets, and from 27th Street to Ninth and 10th streets - all crossing at the zenith of the Big X. Teten said the name of north-south roadway will be Antelope Valley Parkway, and the east-west stretch will be Salt Creek Roadway.

Teten said the project remains on schedule.

"The weather has been hot, dry, miserable and perfect for us to make a lot of progress this summer," Teten said. "We wish we could have had the whole thing (the Big T) done at one time, but there's no sense holding up these two legs for a month.

"We think this is going to be a significant change and benefit to campus and the city."



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