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Highway 2 Strictly Business Op Ed – Oct. 10, 2011

This week I testified before the Nebraska Highway Commission about building a South Beltway.

I thanked the NDOR for playing a key role in an agreement among the City of Lincoln, Lancaster County and the NDOR in purchasing right-of-way for the protection of the South and East Beltways.

I told them that LIBA strongly supports the construction of a South Beltway for the City of Lincoln and agrees with Senator Ben Nelson who expressed concern in a 2009 Lincoln Journal Star article over the lack of progress on the Lincoln South Beltway.

While the commissioners were very cordial and listened intently, they told me that there was not a lot of noise coming out of Lincoln for a South Beltway. They said that people were not emailing them or contacting them about the need for a beltway or about the horrific traffic situation that exists on Highway 2 running through Lincoln.

So it is time to make some noise.  Let your voice be heard.  Every corner of the state is asking the Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) for road repairs, expansions or new roads.  Lincoln needs to speak up if we want to fix this issue.

So far, according to the Lincoln Journal Star, the state has spent about $10 million (80 percent of it federal money, 10 percent city and 10 percent state) for engineering and the purchase of two large parcels of land for the beltway. The beltway has been contemplated for the last 40 years. There must be a plan in place to put together the beltway, a project estimated at a total cost somewhere in the area of $175 million.

Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler summed up the importance of a south beltway in 2009 when he said that the beltway’s completion is crucial to Lincoln’s economic vitality and driver safety.

Prior to my testimony, a presentation was made about the NDOR 20 year vision for the future.  One PowerPoint slide drew my attention because Highway 2 was the ONLY Nebraska highway in the red zone or the extreme category for semi-truck traffic in the future.

We have at least one death every year on this stretch of highway through Lincoln, sometimes more. Now is the time to jump-start this project! The City of Lincoln and the State of Nebraska must renew their focus on getting this project done. Email the Nebraska Highway Commissioners today at greg.weinert@nebraska.gov and let’s get this beltway built.

Coby Mach – LIBA President & CEO