Highway 83 is a valuable regional asset

Friday, July 16, 2004

One of these days, when you have time to spare, take out a U.S.-Canadian atlas and trace the route of Highway 83 from its top point in Swan River, Manitoba, Canada, to its base in Roma, Texas, on the banks of the Rio Grande River, just before the route passes into Monterrey state in Mexico.

By scanning the 83 route -- from Canada through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas -- you will get an inkling of just how long and straight the U.S. and Canadian highway is. It passes directly through the Great Plains, including the boot heel of Texas, creating one of the longest north-south routes in North America.

Since most of the major routes in the United States go from east-to-west, and since most of the nation's population is concentrated in coastal areas, north-south routes like 83 have been largely overlooked by the traveling public.

But, as a growing number of people are discovering, U.S. and Canada Highway 83 has special qualities which need to be recognized and promoted. The latest effort comes through "Traveling Nebraska," a 44-page booklet put together by Monica Harvey of Stapleton, the Nebraska Highway 83 Trade & Tourism president. Mrs. Harvey, a former teacher, now spends much of her volunteer time promoting Highway 83. Among her efforts was helping the VFW have the 83 route through Nebraska designated as the "Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Highway."

As a result, green signs with white lettering are now placed at state and county lines on 83 all through Nebraska, proclaiming the VFW designation. "It took a tremendous effort from VFW members to get this accomplished, with a leading role taken by Roger Broeker of Maywood, the District 5 VFW Commander," she said.

The Nebraska 83 association is closely aligned with the Central North American Trade Corridor Association, which is pushing for improvement of the highway all the way from Canada to Mexico. Steven Pedersen of Minot, N.D., who is the international president of the trade corridor association, praises the Nebraska 83 members for their work, pointing out that pro-active business involvement is the key to the U.S. 83 route reaching its potential.

"We need to build on what we have," Mrs. Harvey said. "We need to realize 83 is already a good way to connect the connect the communities of Nebraska and the Great Plains of the United States, Canada and Mexico."

U.S. 83 is of special importance in the Sandhills, where ranchers and small town residents use it as their main traveled way. It can be a lifeline, with Mrs. Harvey pointing out the distances between towns range from a minimum of a half-hour to as much as an hour.

U.S. and Canada Highway 83: It's already a precious asset, but with continued promotion and improvement, it can reach its full potential as the North American Trade Corridor.

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