Lincoln South Beltway could cost $300 million

Posted by: Marlenia Thornton

The Lincoln South Beltway has yet another hurdle to overcome.

The four–lane expressway loop south of Lincoln, which connects the west and east, parts of the city could now cost up to $300 million.

It was originally estimated at $200 million.

The Nebraska Department of Roads learned of the new price tag toward the end of last year.

It said meeting environmental standards played a factor.

"When you cannot avoid, the next step is minimize. When you can’t minimize, that’s when you go to the mitigation efforts. That’s what added cost,” NDOR Engineering Deputy Director Khalil Jaber said.

The beltway has been in the works for decades, but keeps facing funding challenges.

The city agreed to pay 20 percent of the overall cost.

Currently, it has about $40 million budgeted from the initial proposal.

The state notified Lincoln last month of the increase.

The mayor’s office said it’s too soon to say what the city will do to help pay the gap.

"We are waiting to see how things play out and see how things how things shape up. We’re just reacting to the new number,” Lincoln Public Works and Utilities Director Miki Esposito said.

The department of roads said it’s looking for opportunities for more money like federal dollars.

It was one of the four projects Governor Pete Ricketts submitted for consideration under the new president’s infrastructure program.

"If the funds are not available, we have to be creative and we are always to looking for creative ways to make it work. If not, you sort of stretch the phasing longer,” Jaber said.

Construction is planned for 2020.