Let's hear more about the Snowbird Trail

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

If you haven't already heard about the "Snowbird Trail," you will soon because McCook is a key part of the plan to link the northwest and southwest corners of Nebraska with a four-lane highway.

State Sen. Joel Johnson of Kearney is promoting the plan, which he said could ultimately connect Minneapolis and Chicago with the snowbird states of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

According to the Associated Press, Johnson's diagonal route could take advantage of road building planned or already complete in Iowa and Minnesota. This includes three four-lane highways leading out of Sioux City, Iowa, plus a four-lane route being developed into Minneapolis-St. Paul in Minnesota.

State Sen. Tom Baker of Trenton told the Gazette this morning he and Sen. Johnson have talked about the idea on numerous occasions. "He's laying the foundation for an idea that could develop into a multi-billion dollar project," Baker said.

Rex Nelson, executive director of the McCook Economic Development Corp., is anxious to hear more about the Snowbird Trail and what its impact would be on McCook and Southwest Nebraska. "I don't see how it could be anything but good. We have talked before about a north-south route, but the northeast-southwest plan might work better because of population and travel numbers."

Nelson hopes to hear more about the Snowbird Trail proposal today at a Transportation Advisory Task Force meeting in Lincoln. Nelson is a member of the committee, as is Linda Taylor, a businesswoman and former mayor of McCook.

As part of his promotional push for the northeast-to-southwest four-lane highway, Johnson specifically mentions plans to seek support for the idea in the McCook area. The Snowbird Trail also is being discussed by the South Platte United Chambers of Commerce. "I have had several discussions about the idea with Angus Garey (a McCookite active in SPUCC)," Nelson said.

According to Sen. Baker, the initial phases of the northeast-southwest four-lane highway are already in progress from South Sioux City to Norfolk. Johnson's plan is to follow up on that beginning, using future highway projects and connecting links to bring the project to the southwest part of Nebraska.

Tell us more, Sen. Johnson. Your Snowbird Trail idea could be an economic and tourism boost for the state, stretching from South Sioux City on the northeast to McCook in the southwest.

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