A proposed bypass to reroute U.S. Highway 77 west of

Fremont is no longer being considered.

Nebraska Department of Roads Planning and Location Studies Engineer Steven McBeth recommended removing the west bypass option from consideration.

Plans are to make U.S. 77 an expressway from Lincoln to Norfolk.

Three options for U.S. 77 were discussed at a public meeting Thursday night. The first option is to continue with a current plan to leave U.S. 77 along Broad Street and widen the street to support expressway traffic. The second option is to reroute U.S. 77 around the southeastern edge of Fremont north of the Platte River bridge and connect with

U.S. 275.

The third option was a west bypass that would reroute U.S. 77 along Nebraska Highway 109 from Wahoo through Cedar Bluffs before connecting with U.S. 30 near Ames after crossing the Platte River. The plan would require building the highway across undeveloped land between Cedar Bluffs and U.S. 30.

"The 109 route is not acceptable," McBeth said.

Two physical elements between Cedar Bluffs and U.S. 30 would likely prevent any highway construction, he said. Just south of the Platte River are Pahuk, a sacred site

of the Pawnee Indian tribe, and a Nebraska Historical Society conservation/preservation easement.

Any construction, including highway construction, in that area would likely be protested by both groups, McBeth said.

Four alignments were studied to construct a highway from Cedar Bluffs to U.S. 30, he said. Two of the four proposed alignments would intrude on either the sacred Indian site or the conservation/preservation easement. One would intrude on both.

The final alignment, which was more deeply examined, would place the new highway about a mile west of Pahuk, McBeth said. The biggest challenge with that alignment is that it would conservatively cost almost $100 million, more than $30 million above the estimated costs of any of the other three options.

But McBeth said the cost isn't the only reason for eliminating a west bypass as a viable option.

* The stretch of land is considered a flood plain.

* It would impact a state game refuge.

* A 4,700-foot-long bridge, almost a mile long, would have to be built across the Platte River.

* Nebraska Highway 92 would need to be widened from Omaha to Wahoo.

* A lot of work on the current U.S. 77 would have to be discarded.

* A lot of the right-of-way easements for the current U.S. 77 route already have been acquired.

"The cost is not only one factor," McBeth said. "But it's a substantial cost difference, not just a little bit."

After feasibility study results were presented at the public meeting, which was attended by more than 300 local residents, about 30 people commented on the project. While the group overwhelmingly opposed widening Broad Street, they were split on the other two options. Some of the residents favored the west bypass.

"Sometimes we get what we pay for," said John Smith. "I feel a west bypass is the best alternative. The semi traffic on Broad Street could be eliminated with a west bypass. That would solve the traffic problems in Fremont.

"I feel a southeast beltway would cause more congestion because of the growth on the east side of Fremont," Smith continued.

Larry Snyder opposed a west bypass.

"If we take that traffic from Cedar Bluffs to Ames, I'm worried that truck traffic will be on West Military (coming into Fremont)," Snyder said. "West Military wasn't designed for that."

Donna Ehrenberg, who lives just outside Cedar Bluffs, said she opposed rerouting U.S. 77 through Cedar Bluffs for very personal reasons.

"The road would go over the cemetery where my father and my grandparents are buried," Ehrenberg said. "I think that would also go right over my house."

"These are not easy issues," said DOR District 2 Highway Commissioner Richard Reiser. Dodge County is in District 2 along with Washington, Douglas, Sarpy and Cass counties.

"Is this about money? Partly," Reiser said. "We only have so much money. There are needs all over the state that would require billions of dollars if we had the money to do them all. We have to allocate where the money is needed the most."