And could boost the state economy.
Executive Director Josh Moenning with 4 Lanes 4 Nebraska says the expressway system project had long been touted as the top priority of the Nebraska Department of Roads.
“It’s nearly 30 years old and the job’s not quite done and, basically, we’re making the case that we need to finish the job,” Moenning tells Nebraska Radio Network.
NDOR first envisioned the Nebraska Expressway System to connect all the major cities in the state with four-lane highways in 1988. Momentum, though, seems to have waned.
Moenning says as late as 2006, NDOR placed completion of the Nebraska Expressway System front and center in its assessment report. It dropped off the page and seemed to drop down the list thereafter.
The last major stretch of highway left undone is Highway 275 between Norfolk and Omaha, more precisely east of Norfolk to northwest of Fremont. That 45-mile span of two-lane highway serves steelmakers, heavy manufacturers, and one of the largest cattle feeding areas in the nation.
An economic study commissioned by 4 Lanes 4 Nebraska and conducted by Creighton University professor Ernie Goss estimates Nebraska misses out on $145 million in annual economic activity and the creation of more than 1,300 jobs, because it hasn’t widened Highway 275. The study also included that expansion would greatly reduce accidents along that stretch of highway which carries heavy commercial traffic.
Moenning says lack of completion is holding the state back.
“We think right now we’re losing economic opportunities as a state by not modernizing our infrastructure,” according to Moenning.
Moenning says while expansion of Highway 275 would greatly benefit northeast Nebraska, it also would have a statewide economic impact.
“Getting that job complete can help our state grow and we think if we’re in fact serious about growing Nebraska, we have to be serious about investing in growth opportunities.”