City Revitalization, Sustainable Development, Community Betterment
In 2001, a group of Lincoln business leaders began holding weekly meetings to evaluate the state of the city. The key takeaway? A revitalization effort was needed to attract more visitors, residents, and businesses; to retain more college graduates; and to put Lincoln back on the map. Their vision, deemed Vision 2015, included building a new arena, convention center, and hotel to drive the effort. It took a few years, a failed bond issue setback, and much community support, but in May 2010, voters approved the 16,000-seat, $344-million arena and, in doing so, approved community betterment and sustainable development. The West Haymarket project was underway!
Decidedly too big for one firm alone, seven of Lincoln’s finest firms joined forces to work as a unified team, Olsson being the leader. The team renamed themselves LHIT, short for the Lincoln Haymarket Infrastructure Team, and collaborated daily with each other as well as various entities—the City of Lincoln; the United States Postal Service; University of Nebraska- Lincoln; Department of Environmental Quality; Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Amtrak—navigating through regulations, compliance, long weeks, and many challenges.
Most of the West Haymarket land rested on a rail yard graveyard, which meant one thing: contamination. We evaluated all of the soil and ground water in the area and devised a plan for contamination reduction and removal. Part of that plan involved moving out the contaminated soil, moving in clean soil, and being transparent with the community every step of the way.
Rerouting of Railways: Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Amtrak
In order for the Haymarket to go west, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Amtrak that ran right through the Haymarket had to go west too. But closing down these mainline tracks for an extended amount of time was not an option. To mitigate downtime, we engineered new rail facilities outside of existing rail facilities, which allowed us to close the old track for less than 24 hours and reconnect to the new track. It was an instantaneous cutover. Today, the original rail canopy overlooks Canopy Street as a nod to the past and a look to the future.
To support all the new building developments, including the new arena, infrastructure was priority number one. We engineered and designed the new roadways, sanitary sewers, water mains, and storm sewer systems. We also had to raise up the whole site, which sits within the hundred-year flood plain of Salt Creek so that it would not flood. All in all, we brought in more than 450,000 cubic yards of dirt to improve the site in a 12-month period.
Traffic. No one likes it, especially come football season in Lincoln. We engineered a plan to improve traffic flow and provide easy access from Memorial Stadium to the Haymarket and arena. This plan involved creating two new roundabouts located between 10th and Salt Creek and the north end of the arena. Time was of the essence as this project had to be completed when the University was out of session: between May and August, which equated to roughly 3.5 months. These roundabouts also allowed contractors early access to the arena development site as we worked to reroute the railways.The arena opened in August 2013—making Vision 2015 more like Vision 2013—and has been drawing in national entertainment acts and sporting events as well as fans from across the Midwest ever since. Businesses (including our very own headquarters!), restaurants, bars, and apartments have set up shop in this thriving location. And the city itself is now a serious contender on Best Places to Live lists. Honest Abe would be proud.
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