Many attend informational open house regarding revival of Highway 81 four-lane expansion

YORK – Many people attended Thursday night’s informational open house at the Holthus Convention Center, where they were able to see proposed plans for the continuation of four lanes of Highway 81 from York to Columbus.

The open house was held as the Nebraska Department of Transportation is seeking input on the proposed project. This project would be along a 41-mile stretch in York, Polk and Butler Counties. The expressway would change to three lanes through Stromsburg, Osceola and Shelby.

The NDOT says the purpose of the project is to fulfill the legislative intent to continue the development of the expressway system as was identified in the 1988 Nebraska Highway Needs Study. It would also “improve regional connectivity for vehicles in east central Nebraska by providing important expressway connections.” And it would “maximize use of existing transportation infrastructure.”

This would ultimately complete the last segment of the Highway 81 expressway from the Kansas border to Norfolk, which started decades ago.

The NDOT says the proposed project would require “the acquisition of additional property rights, which could include new right-of-way, control of access, permanent easements and temporary easements. Relocations are anticipated.”

NDOT officials said affected property owners will be contacted by a representative once the design footprint has been established.

Affected property owners were certainly on hand during the public open house, as some voiced concerns about possible impacts on their irrigation wells, residences, livestock facilities, etc. All attendees were given comment sheets to fill out and submit, so all comments can be reviewed.

The NDOT has already listed some possible impacted properties, including the Cross County School, Benedict ball field, Buckley Park, Two Parks Trail, the city square park in Stromsburg, the Osceola City Park, Pocket Park and Shelby Park, which are being evaluated. They also say impacts to wetlands and streams are anticipated and will be mitigated as necessary.

Comments will be collected through March 29. Information regarding the proposed project will be available on the NDOT website at

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