Hwy 71 south of Kimball a focus during NE Highway Commission meeting

Hwy 71 south of Kimball a focus during NE Highway Commission meeting
May 17th, 2024 | Scott Miller

Members of the State Highway Commission met at the Gering Civic Center Friday for their monthly meeting and an update on the roads program for District 5.

During the public comment period, the majority of those speaking discussed the need to address Highway 71 south of Kimball to the Colorado border.

Kimball County Board Chair Rich Flores was one of them, saying the first five miles south of Interstate 80 are especially important. “With the expansion of Clean Harbors doubling their operation and more than doubling their workforce, we will see a greater amount of traffic than ever before. The interest of this facility will see a huge increase of traffic which creates a big safety concern. We also will soon see the Air Force activity in the area revamping the ICBM missile system with the Sentinel missile system. The activity is expected to last many years, and of course, with that comes transportation challenges,” Flores said.

Regarding the L-62A expansion project from Minatare to Highway 385, District 5 Engineer Doug Hoevet said the NEPA review is nearly complete. Hoevet said said a public hearing will take place toward the end of the year on the proposed configuration of adding two more lanes either north or south of the existing roadway.

State Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard tell commissioners that the state’s decision on where the new lanes of L-62A will be located needs to be disclosed sooner rather than later, because at this point, there are a lot of property owners in limbo on the issue, himself included. However, he also said there may be higher roadway priorities in the Panhandle.

“I may have said that in jest (about ) taking the money from L-62A and putting it south of Kimball, but I’m serious about that. That project south of Kimball needs to be done,” said Erdman, whose district included Kimball County prior to legislative redistricting after the 2020 census. “Clean Harbors is an outstanding company, and I can tell you that when they increase the truck traffic to get in there, it’s going to be far more dangerous. I believe the need is probably greater there than it is by my place.”

Paul Whiting, who is overseeing the Clean Harbors Kimball facility expansion, told commissioners and Department of Transportation Director Vicki Kramer that once completed, the expanded plant that operates 24/7 will see truck traffic increase to a projected 260 trailer-loads of material a week. The plant will soon become among the largest and busiest of the company’s facilities throughout the U.S.


© 2024 Nebraska Rural Radio Association. All rights reserved. Republishing, rebroadcasting, rewriting, redistributing prohibited. Copyright Information