State and Panhandle leaders gathered at a remote pullout on Hwy 385 Monday morning to celebrate completion of the latest phase of the Heartland Expressway – widening 14 miles from 2-lanes to make the route 4-lanes all the way from Angora Hill to Alliance.
The Heartland Expressway was approved 3 decades ago to provide a 4-lane connection from Denver to Rapid City. It’s now part of the Ports to Plains Corridor from Mexico to Canada.
Alliance Mayor Mike Dafney told the gathering that the Heartland Expressway has been strongly supported from the beginning by the Panhandle as a way to increase development in the region – and he’s seeing it happen in Alliance.
Governor Pete Ricketts said completion of each 4-lane segment of the Heartland Expressway is of national, state, and local importance.
He said it will be a vital north-south corridor within the national transportation network and significantly increase the flow of freight from America’s border with Canada all the way to ports along the Gulf of Mexico.
Closer to home, the Heartland Expressway becomes more and more attractive as an alternative to I-25, bringing more traffic and more development to the Panhandle with improvements that brings more safety and convenience to drivers and makes the whole process of transportation through the Panhandle easier.
Colorado-based IHC-Scott was the prime contractor for the $32-million dollar project that began in spring of last year.
Plans call for the next phase of the Heartland Expressway, widening Hwy 26 and L-62A to 4-lanes between Minatare and Hwy 385 to be finished in the next 5 years.
Although Panhandle leaders want 4-lanes from Alliance through Chadron to the South Dakota border, plans still call for that stretch to be “super 2-lane” with wider lanes, bigger shoulders, and more passing lanes. The design phase is fully funded.
audio courtesy Nebraska Public Media