Motocross set to roar into Lincoln

The first phase is underway on 70th and Alvo, where an access road to the track is starting to take shape. Photo: Stephen Youngerman, NewsNetNebraska

While the Lincoln Haymarket Arena dominates the talk of the town, a smaller project has already been approved by county officials that could draw thousands of visitors to the area: a motocross track.

Motocross is an up and coming motorcycle sport held on enclosed off-road circuits.  Events such as the X-Games have popularized the idea by giving riders prime-time television footage, bringing many new fans and athletes to the sport.

Here in Lincoln, amateur racers like Kevin Colyer, 19, have to travel to Kansas and beyond for events and practice runs. His sport has cost Colyer and his family thousands of dollars in gas and lodging, not to mention time.

“Something closer to home might allow me to pursue what I love longer,” said Colyer.

Colyer is on one side of a debate that has raged for nearly six years, stemming from a noise complaint at the residence of Dr. David Samani, who allowed family and friends to ride on his private track.

Samani has been a huge advocate of the track since, and has even gathered together a racing team consisting of 11 members who call themselves the Husker Offroad Racing Team.

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A new motocross track in Lincoln is a breath of fresh air to those who have to travel beyond the state to enjoy the sport. Click the image above to hear more about the new track.

Despite Samani’s efforts, plans to build a track were stalled for several years. Noise issues have been blamed for the delay.  Some locals fear that the new track will be deafening to those living nearby.

“It sounds like ten chainsaws being cranked at the same time,” said Emily Vasquez, 39.  “My husband owns one, and that’s enough for me.”

Lincoln resident Jared Herlein was also against the planned track, noting that Lancaster County denied permission for a drag strip in 2006.

“It’s kind of hypocritical to shut down the drag strip idea because of noise, then turn around and give the go-ahead for the motocross track,” argued Herlein.

To counteract this issue, a new plan sought a more desolate area where noise might not be as big of a problem. Abbott Sports Complex, near 70th and Cornhusker, will serve as the track’s location.

The first phase is underway on 70th and Alvo, where an access road to the track is starting to take shape. Photo: Stephen Youngerman, NewsNetNebraska

Google Maps shows six houses within several miles of the track. But they will be shielded from noise from roaring engines by eight-foot earthen berms. The bowl shape will be designed to help contain the noise.

Taxpayers worry that in light of the high expenses Lincoln and Lancaster County might already face with the building of the new downtown arena, the estimated $3.5 million project may just be too much.

But Arianna Kennedy, a resources conservationist, says 88 percent of the funds will come from a federal recreational trails grant program and the balance from private donors and Lancaster County, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.

The initial phase is underway, which consists of leveling and paving an access road at 70th and Alvo Street.  If everything goes according to plan, riders such as Colyer could be ripping up the dirt track by the end of the summer 2010.

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