COLUMBUS, Neb. -- On Tuesday evening, the city of Columbus held a meeting in the council chamber to discuss the location of a potential new viaduct in the community. They held a public open house where people could vote and voice their opinions on the idea of the new structure. 

“Being in a downtown setting it’s obviously a very impactful project,” said Michael Steffensmeier, an engineer. “The city is really looking to be transparent with this project. It actually has to go to a vote by the citizens on a ballot so we want to present an option that people will get behind and vote for.”

In order to bring a more vibrant setting to downtown Columbus, Steffenmeier recognizes that they need the approval from the public. They held a small unofficial vote to get the public’s preferences on the viaducts,  using various colors of stickers. 

“We really want to get the public’s vote on what they think is the best for the community,” Steffensmeier said. “It’s an impactful project, it’s going to be here for a long time and we still want people to utilize downtown and we want to be able to connect downtown as well.” 

While many at the meeting were on board with the idea, others voiced certain displeasures with the placement of the viaduct and how it could interfere with their daily lives. 

“We want to be sensitive to the fact that this is impacting people’s lives and impacting people’s businesses,” Kaitlin Bolte, a landscape architect said. “We understand that and recognize that this is not an easy decision to make."

With conflicting agreements on either side, the subject will be moved to a ballot vote in the near future; a vote where all members of Columbus can participate. 

“We take it to the people,” Bolte said. “We are here to ask the people their vote and try to get a cohesive consensus. There won’t always be a consensus and that is not unusual in communities but we do try to give the best information back to the city of Columbus so that they have what they need to be able to take it to an official public vote to the ballot in the future.”

While there are no official plans for another viaduct in Columbus, the city council will be pressing for the placement of a new one.