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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Media Release: Gov. Ricketts Applauds Heartland Expressway Grant from U.S. DOT

Media Contacts:  

Taylor Gage, 402-471-1970

Luke Robson, 402-471-1967





LINCOLN – Today, Today, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that a segment of the Heartland Expressway has been selected to receive a competitive $18.3 million federal grant to assist in the funding of the project.  The grant is being awarded through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program.


“This announcement follows a historic commitment from the State of Nebraska to build the 21st-century infrastructure system we need to grow our state,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Along with Senator Fischer’s Build Nebraska Act and our Transportation Innovation Act, this grant will help us fulfill Governor Orr’s vision for expanding our state’s expressway system.  I am pleased that the Trump Administration recognized the innovative approach by the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) to modernize our infrastructure to improve safety and drive economic growth in rural Nebraska.”


The segment of the Heartland Expressway selected for INFRA grant funding would convert 14.6 miles of existing two-lane on U.S. Highway 385 (US 385) to a four-lane divided highway.  It is part of a series of improvements to the National Highway System (NHS) corridor beginning at the junction of US 385 and State Link 62A (L62A), and extending north approximately 24.8 miles to the City of Alliance, an economic hub of Nebraska’s Panhandle.


“As the only designated expressway in the western half of the state, the Heartland Expressway is essential to the movement of people and goods, said NDOT Director Kyle Schneweis.  “The state is always striving to find innovative ways to balance needs while making record investments in infrastructure.  Today’s announcement further cements our commitment to the Heartland and we will continue to work with our partners in the panhandle as the funding pieces and construction dates are finalized. 


In recent years, Nebraska has prioritized investment in its roughly 200 miles of the Heartland Expressway through the Build Nebraska Act and the Transportation Innovation Act.  The INFRA selected project is another step toward completing the regional Heartland Expressway system. 


The Heartland Expressway is a federally designated, high priority corridor that extends 498 miles through the states of Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, and South Dakota. 


The Heartland Expressway Corridor serves as the middle section of the Great Plains International Trade Corridor, which extends from Mexico to Canada.  Given its significance for trade and freight transport, it’s one of four federally designated High Priority Corridors that comprise the Ports-to-Plains Alliance.


In order to compete for INFRA grant funding, projects needed to display a wide range of support from local, regional, state, and federal officials, as well as private sector partners.  As part of NDOT’s application, letters of support were submitted by local and state elected officials and organizations including: Governor Pete Ricketts; United States Senator Deb Fischer; the cities of Gering, Scottsbluff; and Chadron; Scotts Bluff County; Alliance Chamber of Commerce; Northwest Nebraska Development Corporation; Box Butte Development Corporation; Panhandle Area Development District; Alliance Tractor and Implement Company; Eagle Communications; and the Heartland Expressway Association.


USDOT’s INFRA discretionary grant program provides dedicated funding for projects that address critical issues facing our nation’s highways and bridges.  In 2017, the Administration announced that $1.5 billion would be made available through the program with at least 25 percent of funding going to rural projects.  USDOT requires construction to begin within 18 months of the obligation deadline of September 30, 2021.