Mayor Chris Beutler and officials from the City, County and the Railroad Transportation Safety District (RTSD) today announced a funding plan that will allow construction of the South Beltway project to begin in 2020. The beltway is designed to relieve traffic congestion and improve safety, mobility and efficiency in Lincoln by connecting Highway 77, south of Saltillo Road, to Highway 2, near S. 120th Street and Rokeby Road.
"The distant dream of a South Beltway has become a reality because of the planning and partnership between the people standing with me today and our State transportation leaders. We put our heads together and found a solution that gets the job done," Beutler said.
The City's $50 million matched contribution will not increase taxes or delay other important roads projects, Beutler said. The funding comes from a combination of sources:
The City and State are negotiating an agreement that will reduce the City's 20 percent matched contribution to the project by $10 million, Beutler said. The adjustment would be made possible because City payments made over the next 16 months allow the State to immediately move forward on important highway needs, allowing it to avoid inflated construction costs.
"The agreement is a great example of how government ought to work," Beutler said. "Four different levels of government came together and dealt a winning hand for the City and the State. We found a path forward and as a result, we can look forward to getting together again for a South Beltway ground breaking in 2020."
City Council Chair Roy Christensen said that the project will relieve traffic congestion in the City. "Completion of the South Beltway will help divert semi-truck traffic from Highway 2, increasing safety and improving traffic flow," he said.
The RTSD provides funding for railroad safety related projects throughout Lincoln and Lancaster County. Since 1971, the RTSD has helped reduce train/vehicle fatality accidents by nearly 90 percent.
"The South Beltway passes over two different railroad crossings and the necessary overpasses will be paid for by RTSD funds. This will connect streets and reduce conflicts between cars, trains and pedestrians, increasing safety for Lincoln and Lancaster County drivers," said Deb Schorr, RTSD chair.
"The County Board is committed to ensuring the successful completion of the South Beltway. It will benefit both residents and businesses in Lincoln and Lancaster County." said Todd Wiltgen, Lancaster County Board Chair. "Investing $300 million in transportation infrastructure will create good paying jobs and spur additional economic development."