In the wake of a tragedy, a community can show its strength.

And Blair did that.

In the days that followed Jaycoby Estrada's death from an accident involving a semi-truck, residents showed their compassion for his family and friends.

A makeshift memorial appeared on the corner of 19th and Washington streets where he tragically lost his life. Funds were donated to the family to help pay for funeral expenses. T-shirts were made to remember the 11-year-old. Lights on nearby businesses were made blue, Jaycoby's favorite color.

One resident brought his safety concerns about the city's highways and truck traffic to the Blair City Council.

But now it's time for more.

While Blair is moving forward with its bypass project, the city has no jurisdiction on speed limits, traffic signs or even pavement markings on U.S. Highways 30 and 75 and state Highways 91 and 133, according to city officials. Instead, the highways are under the jurisdiction of the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

“They set all the speed limits, take care of all the signage, all of the signaling and lighting,” Public Works Director Al Schoemaker said during the most recent council meeting. “They have very set rules on what they will and will not do.”

On multiple occasions over the last 20 years, the city council has approved resolutions that have been sent to the NDOT requesting studies regarding the need for traffic signals and speed issues.

Earlier this year, the city requested a traffic study for the intersection of Industrial Park Drive and Highway 30, which determined a traffic signal is warranted, but it will be two years before it's installed. That request came after three accidents at the intersection.

"The city council is on board, they have tried to help as much as anybody," Schoemaker told the Enterprise. "Unfortunately, their power is very limited in these situations. That's very unfortunate, but it is what it is and we just have to deal with it and work with it and work around it."

However, residents should do their part, too. Flooding the NDOT District Office in Omaha with phone calls, letters and emails could carry more weight than a resolution from the city.

We can do more as a community.

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