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Construction will continue on the South Beltway even as the contractor for Nebraska's largest-ever infrastructure project has failed to secure financing due to market instability from the COVID-19 outbreak, transportation officials announced Monday.

Nebraska Department of Transportation officials will continue to negotiate with Hawkins Construction of Omaha to resolve this challenge and keep the project moving forward, the department said in a news release.

Early construction on the three-year project continued Monday.

"Although this is a surprising development, NDOT remains committed to the Lincoln South Beltway project," Transportation Department Director Kyle Schneweis said in a news release. 

"In some ways, for a project that has had so many hurdles, this is just one more. We could not have imagined the scenario that got us here today, but our team has been hard at work with the Hawkins team examining every possible option to minimize the potential impact on the project’s schedule."

South Beltway construction

Construction begins on the South Beltway south of the intersection of U.S. 77 and Saltillo Road on Monday.

Schneweis and Chris Hawkins of Hawkins Construction planned to comment further on the development during a teleconference Monday afternoon.

In December, state transportation officials awarded the long-awaited project to Hawkins, the only company to bid on its construction who pledged to build the freeway for $352 million. 

South Beltway construction

Construction begins on the South Beltway south of the intersection of U.S. 77 and Saltillo Road on Monday.

That bid amount included Hawkins' cost to finance construction while the state made quarterly payments over an expected eight-year timeframe, according to the Transportation Department.

State lawmakers in 2019 passed a new financing tool to allow expedited construction of the beltway with a more standard, phased payment schedule that ensures the construction can proceed without siphoning money away from other state roads projects.

This is a developing story. Stay with JournalStar.com for updates.

South Beltway Designs

This aerial view, looking south, shows the intricacies of the South Beltway interchange with U.S. 77 southwest of Lincoln.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

This article originally ran on journalstar.com.

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