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Gov. Ricketts Joins Nebraska DOT, State and Local Dignitaries to Open the Lincoln South Beltway

LINCOLN, NE — The Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT), together with Governor Pete Ricketts, NDOT Director John Selmer, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird, and other state and local dignitaries gathered to celebrate the opening of the Lincoln South Beltway. Through the collaborative efforts of NDOT and its partners, work is complete on the mainline of the Lincoln South Beltway and is open to traffic. The $352 million, 11-mile project connects U.S. Highway 77 (US-77) and Nebraska Highway 2 (N-2).

NDOT has been working toward delivery of the South Beltway for decades, and following passage of the Build Nebraska Act and the Transportation Innovation Act, they were able to partner with the City of Lincoln, Lancaster County, and the U.S. Department of Transportation to secure funding and prioritize the project. In spring of 2018, additional funds were available with the awarding of a $25 million TIGER grant to NDOT.

“Completing the Lincoln South Beltway has been a priority of my administration as we work to Grow Nebraska,” Ricketts said. “Whether driving their kids to school, getting to work, or delivering essential goods, all Nebraskans in this region will benefit from this 21st century infrastructure. Thank you to Director Selmer and our NDOT teammates, our federal and local partners, and Chris Hawkins and his team at Hawkins Construction for their hard work on the largest NDOT project in state history since construction of the interstate.”

In 2016, Ricketts signed into law LB 960, the Transportation Innovation Act, or TIA (introduced at the request of the Governor by former Transportation & Telecommunications Committee Chair Jim Smith and prioritized by former Senator Lydia Brasch). The TIA targeted $450 million toward accelerated expressway construction and investments in infrastructure projects to help Grow Nebraska. This legislation was one of the governor’s top priorities for the 2016 legislative session and was passed with overwhelming support from the Legislature.

The Lincoln South Beltway is the largest and one of the most complex projects NDOT has undertaken. Construction of the 11-mile, east-west, four-lane freeway will reduce congestion on the newly named Nebraska Parkway through Lincoln and improve regional mobility.

Preliminary work began in March of 2020, with construction beginning in earnest in May of the same year. Full construction is anticipated to be completed in spring of 2024. NDOT announced the use of an innovative financing approach to accelerate construction of the project over three years while still allowing payment over the same eight-year time frame.

“I’ve always believed in the power of infrastructure and the long-term economic benefits it can bring," said Senator Deb Fischer. "While in the Unicameral, I was proud to introduce the Build Nebraska Act, which has generated significant funding for projects like the Lincoln South Beltway. It’s great to see the fruits of that legislation coming to bare today. In the Senate, I’ll continue to build on the success of the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure bill to help grow Nebraska’s economy.”

"As a result of our work together, the road to Lincoln is now paved with even more opportunity," Gaylor Baird said. "By joining the two major highways in our city, we will support regional mobility, promote economic growth, and enhance public safety for the motorists and pedestrians who rely on our transportation network to get to and from work, school, and appointments."

“It has been an honor to be working on the largest project ever for the state of Nebraska,” said Chris Hawkins, Chief Operating Officer of Hawkins Construction Company. “The hard work and dedication that has happened over the last 33 months cannot be understated, and the work should be commended. We are grateful to be partners on this historic project.”

“The teams who got us here today come from all over our agency, our friends at Benesch, and many more people who played key roles in getting this work accomplished,” Selmer said. “As with any large project, it takes hours of work and sustained partnerships to get across the finish line. We have so many to thank, including Governor Ricketts, our Federal Highway Administration partners, state legislators, Senator Fischer, the City of Lincoln, and Lancaster County.”

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