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Nebraska DOT Details Road Forward for Northeast Nebraska Expressway

LINCOLN, NE — The Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) recently released an update on ongoing efforts to convert the remaining 48 miles of US-275 between Norfolk and Fremont from a two-lane highway to a four-lane expressway. The expansion will increase capacity and support economic growth along a key roadway connecting Nebraska’s northeast communities to the state’s urban hub.

Officially created in 1988, the Expressway System was designed to link communities to the Interstate System using four-lane highways. NDOT prioritized the remaining segments along the US-275 corridor during the selection processes for the Build Nebraska Act and the Transportation Innovation Act. Due to the state’s infrastructure investments, all four segments of US-275 are funded for design or construction.

Segment Update: US-275 Scribner to West Point
The southernmost portion of US-275, the Scribner to West Point segment, is currently in the procurement stage of a design-build delivery project. The procurement is being done concurrent with development of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate constraints and permitting issues associated with wetlands, frequent flooding and levees along the proposed alignment. In late 2018, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) notified NDOT that an EIS would be required, and both parties began work to minimize impacts to the project schedule.

In an effort to streamline the federal permitting process, the USACE opted to apply Executive Order 13807 or “One Federal Decision” to manage cooperating agencies and their authorization requirements under one umbrella. The USACE and NDOT have been working together to keep the proposed project timeline of construction in 2021, with hope work could begin as soon as the agencies could agree on plans for environmental impacts.

Additionally, NDOT made the decision to alter the delivery mechanism for the segment in order to mitigate project risk by directly managing the schedule. Changing the contracting process to a design-bid-build allows NDOT to build off design work from the shortlisted design-build teams and sequentially manage the final design and construction of the project to ensure efficiency and control for project cost.

Segment Update: US-275 Norfolk to N-15 and N-15 to Wisner

To support accelerated delivery, the northernmost portion from Norfolk to Wisner is set to be to be constructed in two segments. In 2019, NDOT selected a consultant to lead work to improve the approximate 16 miles of US-275 from N-57 just east of Norfolk to the east junction of US-275 and N-15 to Wisner. Preliminary design and National Environmental Policy Act review are currently underway and expected to be complete in 2020.

NDOT submitted an application for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants program to support construction of the Norfolk to N-15 portion of US-275 in July 2019. Funding for the project was not included in the list of 55 projects selected for the $900 million in grants announced by U.S. Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

NDOT plans to reapply for the next round of BUILD grants. The department will continue with design and environmental work to best position the project for potential opportunities for competitive funding.

Segment Update: Wisner to West Point (West of Pilger)
This portion is currently funded for design with construction estimated between 2024 and 2033.

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