$352 million Lincoln South Beltway opens after 60 years of planning

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — The Lincoln South Beltway finally opened Wednesday after 60 years of planning and more than $350 million.

Discussions began in the 1960s on the 11-mile project, which connects Highway 77 and Highway 2.

Construction began in May 2020, and the opening on Wednesday was five months ahead of schedule.

In Lincoln, upward of 2,000 semi-trucks come through the city streets on any given day, according to a study by the city.

The goal of this project is to take that traffic out of the city and onto the beltway.

SEE ALSO: Lincoln South Beltway could strain first responders in rural communities

State and local officials held an event to celebrate.

“The road to Lincoln is now paved with even more opportunity,” Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said. “By joining the two major highways in our city, we will support regional mobility and promote economic growth, and enhance public safety for the traveling public.”

Hawkins Construction was the primary company to work on the project.

Chris Hawkins, the president and CEO, said he was proud to be able to work ahead of schedule.

One of his goals was to use primarily Midwest-based teams to supply and build the project.

“It’s truly incredible,” he said. “We did that all through COVID, every financial market collapse that we could have. We made it all the way through.”

Gov. Pete Ricketts said the project is a positive for everyone in the area.

“This will be a tremendous benefit for the city of Lincoln,” he said. “Whether you’re driving your kids to school, going to work or delivering goods around the area, this is going to be important for improving safety and efficiency of that transportation.”

SEE ALSO: Homeowner says some trucks are getting lost on new Lincoln South Beltway

It’s the largest effort ever undertaken by the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

Work still isn’t done even though the east-west beltway is open.  Construction won’t fully wrap up until 2024.

Drivers across Lincoln have already seen some of the changes that come with this beltway.

The portion of Highway 2 that runs through our city was just recently renamed Nebraska Parkway.

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