Expressway A Long And Winding Road
Adrian Smith, In Kimball, Says Project Is Important But Faces Gridlock In D.C.
August 29, 2019
U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., attended the annual meeting this month for the Heartland Expressway at Windbreak Bar and Grill in Kimball.
Smith addressed the entire group of about 30 people about the roadway, but The Observer was able to ask a couple of questions one-one-one with the congressman.
The expressway route is a federally designated corridor that passes through the Kimball area and Panhandle. When completed, the expressway would provide multilane, divided highway access from Rapid City, S.D., to Denver. Congress designated it "high priority" back in 1991.
Smith expressed frustration "with the gridlock in Washington" regarding the project. "Unfortunately thing are slow moving through the system. It can be frustrating."
According to Smith, the transportation bill that could pass next month could fund an additional portion of the Heartland Expressway.
The Alliance south portion has been completed. Nebraska has met requirements for the state to be included in the bill's possible funding, so the state's plan is in place for the expressway to move forward, Smith said.
The Heartland Expressway is important to this area. Smith said the 3rd District of Nebraska that he serves includes 75 counties, and the project is vital to the movement of trade from Mexico to Canada and Canada to Mexico.
"The more trade, the more we benefit," he said. "The more trade, the better off we are."
The group also was addressed by expressway board chairwomanDeb Cottier, Joe Kylie from the Port to Plains staff, and state Sen. John Stinner of the 48th district.
Upon completion, expressway economic benefits are estimated to average $2.5 million in annual savings from accident reduction, 385 to 950 additional jobs, and $9.5 million to $24.8 million in annual earnings. according to the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.
Nebraska Department of Transportation crash data show that the corridor would improve rural highway safety significantly. Twelve fatalities were recorded on unfinished Heartland Expressway roads from 2014 to 2018.