- Associated Press - Sunday, February 26, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Lincoln has begun looking for a contractor to build a replacement fire station near the airport and an architect to design four new stations.

The five are part of a plan approved by voters in May 2015 to raise the city sales tax by a quarter of a cent for three years. The $36 million total is earmarked for new stations nearer growth on the city’s edges and a new 911 radio system.

The city has grown significantly in size and population since 1996, when it last built a station, said City Public Safety Director Tom Casady. It has grown by more than 25 square miles and added than 65,000 people to reach a current population of more than 277,000.

A 2014 study found there were 10,000 addresses beyond the desired four-minute response time for life-threatening emergencies, Casady told the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/2motfMw). Research showed Lincoln could cut the number of addresses beyond the desired response time by about 6,500 with the new fire stations. Two of the stations will replace stations farther inside city limits.

City staffers used the city’s comprehensive plan to look at future growth when the four-station plan was created three years ago. Their predictions for where new homes and businesses would locate turned out to be very accurate, Casady said.

Construction of the South Beltway, expected to start in 2020, and eventual construction of the East Beltway will spur even more expansion, he said, so more stations will be added.

“That will continue to happen as the city continues to grow over the next 25 years,” Casady said.

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