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State plans to widen 7.5 miles of interstate just west of Lincoln
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State plans to widen 7.5 miles of interstate just west of Lincoln

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Interstate 80 widening, 12.27

Westbound Interstate 80 narrows from three lanes to two near Northwest 56th Street. The state plans to widen an additional 7.5 miles of interstate west of Lincoln starting in 2024.

The first stretch of the planned, six-lane interstate between Lincoln and Grand Island is now more than a wish — but it’s still five years from completion.

The state Department of Transportation recently added a 7.5-mile Interstate 80 widening project — from Northwest 56th Street to the Pleasant Dale exit — to its 2022-2025 state transportation improvement plan.

It plans to hire contractors for the estimated $130 million project next year, with construction expected to start in 2024 and end in 2027, said spokeswoman Jeni Campana.

Nearly 50,000 cars and trucks travel that stretch daily, according to the state's traffic count map.

But it’s not yet clear how the department will manage traffic during construction, including how many lanes will remain open, Campana said. The state will determine that as the work gets closer, though the process will include public involvement.

I-80 widening

It's also too soon to know how much federal funding will help pay for the project, she said. That, too, will be known as the state gets closer to hiring contractors.

Nebraska plans to spend nearly $15 billion on its highway system over the next 20 years, according to its 2021 state highway needs assessment. Of that, it has designated $3.5 billion on capital improvements, including a plan to widen the interstate to six lanes between Lincoln and Grand Island.

From 2003 to 2013, the state spent $400 million on a 42-mile I-80 widening project between Omaha and Lincoln.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7254 or psalter@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSPeterSalter

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