Nebraska Opens Lincoln South Beltway

Lincoln (Neb.) South Beltway west interchange
Lincoln South Beltway west interchange (Nebraska Department of Transportation)

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One of Nebraska’s largest transportation projects is completed with the recent opening of the main part of the four-lane, east-west Lincoln South Beltway.

Improving regional mobility, the beltway in Lincoln connects U.S. Highway 77 and Nebraska Highway 2 (N2). Outside of Omaha, the heaviest traffic volumes are in the Lincoln metro area.

Over 65% of Nebraska’s 1.96 million residents live around Lincoln and Omaha. The beltway project began in February 2020 to ease congestion and truck traffic on N2, which will be relinquished to the city and renamed Nebraska Parkway.

The main portion of the beltway opened Dec. 14, from Highway 77 as well as the 68th Street and 120th Street interchanges, five months ahead of schedule.

“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,” said Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. “As a result of our work together, the road to Lincoln is now paved with even more opportunity.”

N2 near Lincoln had the largest truck volumes among nonurban highways with segments having 2,500 trucks driving there daily, since N2 connects Interstate 80 to I-29 in Iowa. Many of the high truck-volume routes form connections to I-80, the state’s primary highway freight corridor.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (Nebraska Department of Transportation) 

“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,” Gov. Pete Ricketts noted at the opening event, where state and local officials gathered.

“I’ve always believed in the power of infrastructure and the long-term economic benefits it can bring,” U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer said.

John Selmer, director of Nebraska Department of Transportation, thanked state government teams and Hawkins Construction Co. and other project partners.

DOT officials noted that the project has involved 300 craftspeople and dozens of local builders and suppliers.

“As with any large project, it takes hours of work and sustained partnerships to get across the finish line,” Selmer said.

Lincoln South Beltway west interchange flyover bridge

Lincoln South Beltway west interchange flyover bridge (Nebraska Department of Transportation)

Construction will continue on the $352 million project with completion slated for April 30, 2024. So far, five of 11 roundabouts are complete, 21 bridges were built, most boxed culverts are done, three of five interchanges are open and 5.3 million cubic yards of dirt have been moved.

Chris Hawkins, chief operating officer at Hawkins Construction, said, “It has been an honor to be working on the largest project ever for the state of Nebraska. The hard work and dedication that has happened over the last 33 months cannot be understated.”

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