The Nebraska Department of Transportation and the City of Norfolk are taking a step to help move forward the long unfinished Highway 275 expansion project.
The state transportation department has applied for an Infrastructure to Rebuild America (INFRA) grant, which would be used to financially support expanding the highway to four lanes from Norfolk to Wisner.
Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning, in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, said completion of the project is vital to the future of Northeast Nebraska.
"Currently, the outdated, crowded two-lane highway limits regional economic growth and puts motorists at risk for harm and even death," Moenning wrote on behalf of the City of Norfolk. "... While tremendous potential for new growth and increased quality of life exists, outdated infrastructure is costing the region and the state. Expanding and improving this section of highway will help support the economic competitiveness of the region by better connecting Nebraska's freight and passenger transportation network."
Moenning said area businesses such as Nucor and Norfolk Iron & Metal, along with the many agricultural producers, would be among the main beneficiaries by being able to more quickly and safely access Interstate 80 and Interstate 29.
The expansion of the highway has been notoriously incomplete since first proposed in the 1980s. The project is anticipated to finally begin in 2021 with the portion from Scribner to West Point, but the timeline on the remainder of the project is up in the air and could be more than a decade away. A grant would help be a catalyst for the future of the highway.
"A successful application would allow the state to build upon the 2021 US-275 Scribner to West Point project to make real progress in completing the expressway system," Moenning wrote in his letter to Chao. "... I urge your strong consideration of this application for the US-275 Norfolk to Wisner project in order to bring forward the critical economic and safety impacts this project would provide."