Highway 133 connecting Omaha to Blair now widens from a 2-lane to a 4-lane road beginning on Monday.
A group of state leaders along with community members on Friday met about a mile north of Blair Municipal Airport for a ceremonial ribbon cutting.
The highway is the first completed project under the Build Nebraska Act which passed in 2011 and the main sponsor of that bill was Sen. Deb Fischer as she sees the fruit of her labor, “This is a very special day to be able to stand here and cut the ribbon for the first project that was funding through my bill.”
The Build Nebraska Act created a 20-year funding mechanism which reassigned 1/4 of 1 cent of the existing general state sales tax receipts to state and local highways, roads and streets.
For the better part of 25 years, Blair Mayor James Realph said this has been a priority for the city as an economic engine.
“We need those people because we have more jobs than we have people so we need to have them coming up to Blair to work,” said Realph.
Realph said this stretch of highway is one of the most dangerous in the state and hopes this expansion eliminates the crashes, “Head-on collisions, hopefully we won’t have any more of those out here, it killed almost one personal annually out on this road.”
For 75-year old Sam Harmer this stretch of road has special meaning.
“From 2 land to 4 lane is just as big a deal as changing it to gravel to 2 lane,” said Harmer. He would know because he worked on this road 58 years ago when that happened at the age of 17, “It was the summer before my senior year in high school and I was hoping to get the job because they pay by the hour.”
So he wanted to work on this road again when it expands to 4-lanes.
“For my bucket list, I mean I've worked all my life for my eulogy to say that I worked on it in 1959 and I worked on it again in 2017,” said Harmer.
Even though the official ribbon cutting was on Friday, the entire 4-lane highway will open up on Monday because of construction delays.
The entire highway was completed in three different phases and took a total of 7 years to construct and cost of $55.4 million.