The Great Platte River Road Archway Monument would gain direct access to Interstate 80 and the City of Kearney would get the east interchange it has long sought under this year’s state roads construction program.
The $316 million in projects Nebraska intends to put to bid in the fiscal year that began in July is slimmed down considerably from last year’s $487 million program. That’s because last year’s was boosted by some $162 million in federal stimulus dollars.
The list released Tuesday includes more than $80 million of projects in Omaha metro-area counties.
Among the most significant in the immediate Omaha area is the nearly $18 million re-routing of Platteview Road in Sarpy County. East of U.S. Highway 75, that road later will serve as the approach to the new U.S. 34 bridge over the Missouri River that will be constructed just north of the Platte River.
A $21 million bridge over the Platte along U.S. Highway 77 near Fremont and $7.7 million to continue work on the Interstate 80 Missouri River bridge are also in the plan.
And though it wasn’t included in the printed plan released Tuesday, the $20 million-plus widening of Nebraska 370 from Gretna to I-80 will also be put to bid this year. That was made possible when Congress recently released to the states some impounded federal highway dollars.
Kearney officials cheered the inclusion of the long-awaited, $18.7 million east interchange.
“We are anxious and excited,’’ said Jan Rodehorst, chief executive of Kearney’s chamber of commerce. “This will help our community in many ways.’’
Even after a federal earmark was obtained five years ago to fund the bulk of the project, the state struggled to come up with the required local matching dollars at a time of pinched transportation budgets.
In the end, the state split the $3 million in local costs with the city, Kearney using keno funds and hotel taxes to fund its half. That paved the way for the project to now move ahead.
The interchange will provide direct access to the arch, a roadside tourist attraction and museum that has struggled financially since it opened a decade ago, but the project long predates the arch. Developers of the arch picked that site in part because of the planned interchange.
Though among Nebraska’s largest cities, Kearney currently has a single, heavily congested Interstate interchange. The new interchange will provide an eastern gateway to the city and much easier access to Kearney’s airport, several industrial sites and Cabela’s, the popular outdoor outfitter.
Other Omaha-area projects in the plan include: $4.7 million to resurface U.S. Highway 6 from 126th to 174th Streets; $5 million to resurface U.S. Highway 75 between Blair and Herman; $1.8 million to resurface Nebraska Highway 31 in Sarpy County; $1.2 million for an I-80 deer fence along the Platte River in Sarpy County; and $3 million to resurface the I-80/I-480 interchange.