As traffic diverted off Interstate 29 continues to stream down Highway 75, the state took steps Thursday to step up safety at a dangerous spot.

At the intersection with Murray Road and Nebraska Highway 1 just south of Plattsmouth, the Nebraska Department of Transportation installed and activated a temporary traffic signal.

It’s a move welcomed by Conestoga Public Schools students, staff and bus drivers and Beaver Lake residents, said Dave Friedli, principal of Conestoga Jr.-Sr. High School.

Highway 75 runs north and south through the area — with Beaver Lake east of the highway and, to the west, the village of Murray and the Conestoga schools.

The situation has gotten dangerous for local drivers trying cross the highway with its heavier traffic, Friedli said. Two weeks ago, a Conestoga student’s car was struck as she tried to cross the highway, he said.

Friedli said that in a recent evening rush hour, he waited five minutes to find a gap in traffic. And that’s after sitting in line to reach the highway crossing.

“At peak times, it’s crazy,” he said.

About 3,000 people live in Beaver Lake, and another 460 live in Murray. The Conestoga schools have 725 students in all grades and almost 100 staff members, Friedli said.

Each day, the district has nine buses that must access Highway 75, he said.

The traffic signal is temporary; the state said it expects to keep it activated for about two months.

I-29 between the Omaha metro area and Missouri is still closed because of flood damage. Officials estimate that it will reopen in June.

Even though the signal is in place, there is some concern that Highway 75 drivers won’t be used to stopping at the intersection, said Marv Lech, district construction engineer for the Department of Transportation.

The state will have message boards in the area, Lech said.

In addition, speed limits in the area have been reduced, Friedli said.

Even with the changes, Friedli said he’s begging people to be careful at the highway — and not assume that highway traffic will stop at the signal.

“It helps,” he said, “but it doesn’t guarantee that safety.”

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