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Downtown Beatrice, Nebraska: west side of 100s block of North 5th Street. June 19, 2015. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Department of Transportation announced on June 26 that the city of Beatrice, Nebraska, has been awarded a grant to fund the revitalization of the city’s downtown area.

The Court Street Access and Safety Transformation Initiative will reroute U.S. Highway 136 and convert Court Street, located in the center of the city, to be more focused on pedestrian traffic. According to the bid that the city submitted to the federal government, some of the improvements expected to be added are sidewalks and sidewalk lighting, bike racks, expanded seating, and additional outdoor space accessible to the public. Construction is estimated to begin in September.

The grant application was supported by the Nebraska Department of Transportation, which said in a social media post that it would assist in the construction process.

“I’m proud that Beatrice leaned into this opportunity and appreciate NDOT’s efforts to support them in making the project a reality. It’s a big win for Nebraska,” Republican Gov. Jim Pillen said in a statement.

Beatrice, the 15th-most populous city in Nebraska, received $21.3 million from the Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program. The RAISE program provides funding for regional construction projects in situations in which traditional grant funding may not be available. As part of its grant application, Beatrice met the qualification either as an area of persistent poverty or as a historically disadvantaged community.

The RAISE program is funded in part by annual congressional appropriations and in part by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden in 2021.

In addition to the project in Beatrice, the Department of Transportation also announced a grant of $750,000 for the city of Lincoln. The grant will be used to assist the city with urban planning, including infrastructure issues related to the multimodal Nebraska International Port of the Plains in nearby Hershey.

The department announced $1.8 billion in awards for 148 projects across the United States and said that a total of 550 projects have been funded over the four years of the Biden-Harris administration.

“Through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re funding projects across the country to make roads safer, make it easier for people to move around their community, make transportation infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather, and improve supply chains to keep costs down for consumers,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a release.

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