Ricketts unveils plan to finish Lincoln South Beltway early

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) -- A state highway bypass around Lincoln could get finished years ahead of schedule thanks to a new construction timeline.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced the accelerated timeline for the Lincoln South Beltway on Monday with state senators, transportation officials and Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler.

The project will create a four-lane, 11-mile east-to-west freeway south of Lincoln connecting U.S. Highway 77 and Nebraska Highway 2. It's designed to reduce the number of heavy trucks passing through town.

The original timeline called for eight years to finish the project. The Department of Transportation now says it can finish it by the end of 2022.

Sen. Mike Hilgers, of Lincoln, has introduced a bill to change the way such projects are financed and allow work to get completed faster.