The University of Nebraska’s Landscape Architecture 311 class, led by professor Kim Wilson, developed plans focused on providing places and spaces to encourage economic development and generational renewal in rural areas. After talking with Valentine community stakeholders and identifying focus areas, the students created design concepts for several projects including a new streetscape for Valentine’s Main Street, which is also a section of Highway 83. It is a key community corridor that hasn’t been updated since the 1930s.

In July, the streetscape concepts came one step closer to reality when the Valentine City Council approved $350,000 in landscape architectural improvements to be included in a new Highway 83 project that is scheduled to begin construction this year. The plans include new concrete storefront to storefront, planting beds at intersection corners, street trees, a decorative paving strip next to roadside parking and dark sky-friendly LED lamp posts in addition to future planned decorative benches, trash cans, bike racks, pedestrian wayfinding kiosks and street art.

“With the highway originally scheduled to be torn up and redone by the Department of Transportation, city stakeholders saw this as a great opportunity to implement some improvements,” said Austin Arens, a landscape architecture major from Kearney.

While not all their design projects were approved for installation, Arens said he and his fellow students are beyond excited to see that the streetscape studio concepts will actually be implemented.

To assist with the design implementation of the streetscape, Arens has been hired by the city of Valentine to work alongside Olsson Associates Inc. and provide design consultation services, taking the studio designs beyond conceptual work and developing them for implementation. If everything goes according to projection, the streetscape will be completed by 2022.

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