Good Attendance At Open House For Next Leg Of The Heartland Expressway

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      About 100 people attended an open house Thursday night in the Minatare High School Gym on the next phase of the Heartland Expressway.

The project tentatively scheduled for construction in 2025 widens the 18 miles of Hwy 26-Link 62A from Minatare to Hwy 385 at Angora Hill from 2-lanes to 4 lanes.

     The open house was part of the public input process for the planning stage of the project and focused on two options: one with 2 new lanes north of the existing highway and one with the new lanes on the south. 

      The analysis by the engineering firm Alfred Benesch and Company show the southern choice would force 49 relocations, including 19 houses while the northern option would cause 26 relocations including 13 houses. 

      Anthony Birks of Benesch, which is also doing the environmental study for the project, says the final decision on which alternative is used will be made over the next year with careful consideration given to a number of factors.

     Those include impacts to socioeconomic resources, environmental resources, the corridor, the traveling public, and property owners along the corridor.

      State Senator and Bayard-area rancher Steve Erdman was one of several people at the open house who opposed the idea of going to 4-lanes, preferring instead a Super-Two highway with 2 wider traffic lanes, wider shoulders, and more passing lanes.

       Erdman, whose property would be affected by one of the options, said a Super-Two would cost less and cause fewer disruptions.

     Nebraska Dept of Transportation District 5 Engineer Doug Hoevet says public input is an important part of the decision-making process and will be considered. Information will be available on the NDOT website at ndot.info/51521. 

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