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Beef processing plant could bring planned Newberry Access improvements sooner
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Beef processing plant could bring planned Newberry Access improvements sooner

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Even when it opened in 1984, North Platte’s Newberry Access was designed to grow from two to four lanes one day.

That day’s officially more than a decade away, but it might come sooner if Sustainable Beef LLC builds a beef processing plant along the city’s east bypass from Interstate 80 to U.S. Highway 30.

Expanding Newberry (also known as Nebraska Highway L-56G) wouldn’t be the only road improvement facing local leaders if the 875-employee plant takes shape atop a retired sewer lagoon on the highway’s east side.

They’d also have to address at least the west end of unpaved Golden Road, which runs between the former lagoon and the city’s active lagoon and connects Newberry to three homes nearer the Platte River forks.

Four-laning Newberry has been on the Nebraska Department of Transportation’s official project list for five years — even though the $22 million project currently isn’t scheduled to start before 2034.

“In all reality, when Newberry was built in the early ’80s, it was intended to be four-laned,” said Gary Thayer of North Platte, District 6 engineer for the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

The road’s namesake, the late W.D. “Twist” Newberry of North Platte, served as chairman of the Nebraska Highway Commission. His wife, Frances, was a daughter of World War I-era Gov. Keith Neville.

Thayer, City Engineer Brent Burklund and retired City Administrator Jim Hawks said the state bought all the right of way needed to add two lanes when Newberry was first built.

That’s why motorists see a wide gap between the road — which would become Newberry’s southbound lanes when expanded — and the fences and power lines to the east. The northbound lanes would go in that gap.

Hawks, who retired as city administrator last May, represents District 6 on the highway commission and just stepped down as its chairman. He’s a former Lincoln County highway superintendent and county surveyor.

He said Newberry’s expansion was one of two projects affecting North Platte chosen in 2016 by Gov. Pete Ricketts’ Innovation Task Force, on which Hawks served.

That group chose eight initial projects to be built with help from state sales tax funds set aside under the 2010 Build Nebraska Act, sponsored by then-state senator and current U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine.

One of those eight is the current $60 million expansion of U.S. Highway 83 to “super-2” status between North Platte and McCook, Thayer and Hawks said.

Newberry’s expansion, which would extend across I-80 at Exit 179, leads a second group of 12 Build Nebraska Act projects to be funded after the first eight.

North Platte leaders had the chance to nominate projects for the list, Hawks said. “We knew the Build Nebraska Act might be the only opportunity to get that project funded.”

Thayer said he split the interchange work from the rest of the project “because I thought the funding would be more attainable earlier” to get at least one part started.

But the expansion could be speeded up if the federal government pumps more money into state roads or North Platte would commit some local funds, Thayer added.

“We as a department have taken the stance that if the local community wants the project and wants to chip in more money toward it, we’ll look at it and how to fund the rest of it,” he said.

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The state usually pays 80% and the city 20% for highway projects inside city limits, a fact Burklund mentioned during an April 1 City Council work session on possible local impacts of Sustainable Beef’s project.

But Hawks said schedules for Build Nebraska Act projects are based on their being fully funded by NDOT. The city would have to decide whether to put any funds into Newberry’s expansion to get it built sooner.

Whenever it’s built, Newberry would end up with four lanes along its entire length from U.S. 30 to East State Farm Road.

It has four lanes divided by a concrete island south of I-80 and past the Walmart Distribution Center, which opened in 2003.

Even without the expansion, cattle trucks could reach Sustainable Beef’s proposed site atop the retired sewer lagoon from all directions without driving through the heart of North Platte.

That became possible when NDOT built a U.S. 30 bypass in 2002 from Newberry and East Fourth Street over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks to East 12th Street.

Its completion redirected U.S. 30 off its original Lincoln Highway route, which ran west on East Fourth and north with U.S. 83 on North Jeffers Street to its East 12th/Rodeo Road intersection.

Hawks said city officials had not yet been contacted about a possible beef plant when he retired last spring in favor of current City Administrator Matthew Kibbon.

If the beef plant should go atop the old lagoon, he said, he’d expect trucks would use both Newberry and Golden Road to enter and leave.

The intersection of an improved Golden and a four-lane Newberry could be controlled with stoplights, Hawks said. Golden is a Lincoln County road east of the city’s active lagoon.

But it’s hard to say how the intersection would be configured, Burklund said, because he hasn’t seen a plan for how Sustainable Beef might want traffic to flow in and out.

While the site sits just one mile north of I-80 — one of several factors touted in Sustainable Beef’s proposal — a rail spur from it north to the U.P. tracks is unlikely, local leaders say.

Local leaders have had preliminary talks with Sustainable Beef about building a frozen-beef storage facility at the proposed industrial rail park next to U.P. just east of Hershey, said Gary Person, president and CEO of the North Platte Area Chamber & Development Corp.

Refrigerated trucks would have two options for getting there. One runs north and west on Newberry and U.S. 30 through North Platte’s north side. The other runs south to I-80, north from its Hershey exit and back east on U.S. 30.

The Nebraska Highway L-56C roundabout on Hershey’s south edge was designed to handle trucks, Thayer said. It’s part of a bypass and U.P. viaduct that opened in 2016.

Thayer said he’s suggesting that NDOT leaders consider a roundabout for the junction of U.S. 30, East Fourth and a four-lane Newberry when the latter finally is expanded.

The east U.S. 30 overpass above the railroad was resurfaced last year, he said. NDOT plans to resurface 11.3 miles of U.S. 30 between North Platte and Hershey in 2022.


By TODD VON KAMPENtodd.vonkampen@nptelegraph.comEven when it opened in 1984, North Platte’s Newberry Access was designed to grow from two to four lanes one day.That day’s officially more than a decade away, but it might come sooner if Sustainable Beef LLC builds a beef processing plant along the city’s east bypass from Interstate 80 to U.S. Highway 30.Expanding Newberry (also known as Nebraska Highway L-56G) wouldn’t be the only road improvement facing local leaders if the 875-employee plant takes shape atop a retired sewer lagoon on the highway’s east side.They’d also have to address at least the west end of unpaved Golden Road, which runs between the former lagoon and the city’s active lagoon and connects Newberry to three homes nearer the Platte River forks.Four-laning Newberry has been on the Nebraska Department of Transportation’s official project list for five years — even though the $22 million project currently isn’t scheduled to start before 2034.“In all reality, when Newberry was built in the early ’80s, it was intended to be four-laned,” said Gary Thayer of North Platte, District 6 engineer for the Nebraska Department of Transportation.The road’s namesake, the late W.D. “Twist” Newberry of North Platte, served as chairman of the Nebraska Highway Commission. His wife, Frances, was a daughter of World War I-era Gov. Keith Neville.Thayer, City Engineer Brent Burklund and retired City Administrator Jim Hawks said the state bought all the right of way needed to add two lanes when Newberry was first built.That’s why motorists see a wide gap between the road — which would become Newberry’s southbound lanes when expanded — and the fences and power lines to the east. The northbound lanes would go in that gap.Hawks, who retired as city administrator last May, represents District 6 on the highway commission and just stepped down as its chairman. He’s a former Lincoln County highway superintendent and county surveyor.He said Newberry’s expansion was one of two projects affecting North Platte chosen in 2016 by Gov. Pete Ricketts’ Innovation Task Force, on which Hawks served.That group chose eight initial projects to be built with help from state sales tax funds set aside under the 2010 Build Nebraska Act, sponsored by then-state senator and current U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine.One of those eight is the current $60 million expansion of U.S. Highway 83 to “super-2” status between North Platte and McCook, Thayer and Hawks said.Newberry’s expansion, which would extend across I-80 at Exit 179, leads a second group of 12 Build Nebraska Act projects to be funded after the first eight.North Platte leaders had the chance to nominate projects for the list, Hawks said. “We knew the Build Nebraska Act might be the only opportunity to get that project funded.”Thayer said he split the interchange work from the rest of the project “because I thought the funding would be more attainable earlier” to get at least one part started.But the expansion could be speeded up if the federal government pumps more money into state roads or North Platte would commit some local funds, Thayer added.“We as a department have taken the stance that if the local community wants the project and wants to chip in more money toward it, we’ll look at it and how to fund the rest of it,” he said.The state usually pays 80% and the city 20% for highway projects inside city limits, a fact Burklund mentioned during an April 1 City Council work session on possible local impacts of Sustainable Beef’s project.But Hawks said schedules for Build Nebraska Act projects are based on their being fully funded by NDOT. The city would have to decide whether to put any funds into Newberry’s expansion to get it built sooner.Whenever it’s built, Newberry would end up with four lanes along its entire length from U.S. 30 to East State Farm Road.It has four lanes divided by a concrete island south of I-80 and past the Walmart Distribution Center, which opened in 2003.Even without the expansion, cattle trucks could reach Sustainable Beef’s proposed site atop the retired sewer lagoon from all directions without driving through the heart of North Platte.That became possible when NDOT built a U.S. 30 bypass in 2002 from Newberry and East Fourth Street over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks to East 12th Street.Its completion redirected U.S. 30 off its original Lincoln Highway route, which ran west on East Fourth and north with U.S. 83 on North Jeffers Street to its East 12th/Rodeo Road intersection.Hawks said city officials had not yet been contacted about a possible beef plant when he retired last spring in favor of current City Administrator Matthew Kibbon.If the beef plant should go atop the old lagoon, he said, he’d expect trucks would use both Newberry and Golden Road to enter and leave.The intersection of an improved Golden and a four-lane Newberry could be controlled with stoplights, Hawks said. Golden is a Lincoln County road east of the city’s active lagoon.But it’s hard to say how the intersection would be configured, Burklund said, because he hasn’t seen a plan for how Sustainable Beef might want traffic to flow in and out.While the site sits just one mile north of I-80 — one of several factors touted in Sustainable Beef’s proposal — a rail spur from it north to the U.P. tracks is unlikely, local leaders say.Local leaders have had preliminary talks with Sustainable Beef about building a frozen-beef storage facility at the proposed industrial rail park next to U.P. just east of Hershey, said Gary Person, president and CEO of the North Platte Area Chamber & Development Corp.Refrigerated trucks would have two options for getting there. One runs north and west on Newberry and U.S. 30 through North Platte’s north side. The other runs south to I-80, north from its Hershey exit and back east on U.S. 30.The Nebraska Highway L-56C roundabout on Hershey’s south edge was designed to handle trucks, Thayer said. It’s part of a bypass and U.P. viaduct that opened in 2016.Thayer said he’s suggesting that NDOT leaders consider a roundabout for the junction of U.S. 30, East Fourth and a four-lane Newberry when the latter finally is expanded.The east U.S. 30 overpass above the railroad was resurfaced last year, he said. NDOT plans to resurface 11.3 miles of U.S. 30 between North Platte and Hershey in 2022.

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