Commissioners sign resolution favoring 4-lane

Monday, November 3, 2008

Red Willow County commissioners signed a resolution this morning supporting the concept of a four-lane expressway linking Interstate 80 in Nebraska with Interstate 70 in Kansas.

Commission Chairman Earl McNutt said the expressway would no doubt be a huge economic boost to Red Willow County and to the citizens of Southwest Nebraska and Northwest Kansas. But, he said, he doesn't want county coffers to support it -- "I don't know where (in the county budget) it would come from," McNutt said.

Rex Nelson, executive director of the McCook Economic Development Corp., which also supports the project, said it isn't likely the road will come to pass "in our lifetimes," but he would like to see the groundwork started. He said he realizes that the State of Nebraska doesn't have funding available for such a project, but he wants to "keep the issue alive." He said he would like past studies updated, new studies begun and support reaffirmed. The first step, Nelson said, is an updated study, which could cost $2 million.

"This (expressway) may not come to pass for 10, 20, 30 years," Nelson said. "But someone needs to lay the groundwork."

Commissioner Leigh Hoyt said he would like to see supporters "get busy with the project while we have support in Washington," with Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson, a native of McCook.

Nelson agreed, saying, "I couldn't begin to predict where this will go. But we know where it will go if we don't do anything."

McCook's city council will discuss the expressway at its meeting this evening.

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