City Council passes ordinance to reduce speed limit on Highway 281

There will now be a reduced speed before the intersection of Highway 281 and Lochland Road to...
There will now be a reduced speed before the intersection of Highway 281 and Lochland Road to help with traffic flow and improve safety. (Source: Kelsey Dickeson, KSNB)(KSNB)
Published: Oct. 14, 2019 at 7:21 PM CDT
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You'll now see a reduced speed while driving along Highway 281 near Hastings after people voiced concerns about the safety of one intersection.

Many people in the area said the intersection of Lochland Road and Highway 281 isn't just a nuisance; it's also dangerous.

Janna Johnson lives just west of that intersection. She said she knows of at least four people who've gotten into accidents there.

"It would just be a safety issue all four ways, because you're seeing people that are blowing all the way through that intersection without even attempting to slow down, and then some of them are turning east and some of them are turning west," Johnson said.

The Hastings City Council voted 8-0 to reduce the speed limit in that area.

When you're heading southbound on Highway 281, the current speed limit is 70 mph, and goes down to 55 mph right around Lochland Road. Going North, the speed limit is 55 mph and goes up to 70 mph at Lochland Road.

The new ordinance will move the 55 mph speed limit about 500 yards north of where it currently is to help with traffic flow. It'll be changed in two weeks.

While many people in the area said that'll be beneficial, they'd like to see even more be done.

Johnson started a petition to get the state to put a traffic light at the intersection. So far, she has more than 350 signatures.

Dr. Holly Randone signed the petition. She works at the Hastings Surgical Center, which is the first building you seen if you turn west onto Lochland Road off Highway 281.

"I take this intersection multiple times a day, and I also drive to work to Grand Island a couple a times a week. It becomes really congested. There are a lot of days where I do have to wait seven to ten minutes just at this intersection," Randone said.

She said the increase in speed limit from 65 mph to 70 mph along Highway 281 could cause more accidents as well.

Unfortunately, that's what happened to one of their physician's children.

"There was a large truck in the right lane, so he couldn't see in the left lane and went and was hit by another vehicle," said Brooke Day, manager at the Hastings Surgical Center.

Luckily, he's okay.

Day mentioned she has problems turning out of the Surgical Center onto 281 no matter which direction she goes. She said if too many people are in line, she'll take the bypass to Baltimore Avenue.

"It's 70 miles per hour (north), so you're turning left on (Highway 281) so it's almost impossible to get to 70 in a reasonable amount of time," Day said.

The Nebraska Department of Transportation did a study back in August to look at traffic flow near the intersection of Lochland Road and Highway 281.

According to their study, the NDOT determined a traffic light isn't necessary at that intersection. They did, however, recommend the reduced speed.