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ALLIANCE, Neb. (AP) — Federal officials have awarded an $18.3 million grant for work on the Heartland Expressway project in the Nebraska Panhandle.

The office of U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., announced the grant in a news release Tuesday.

The Nebraska Department of Transportation will use the money to convert to four lanes a nearly 15-mile (24-kilometer) segment of U.S. Highway 385. That stretch runs north to Alliance from the state 62A junction.

The Heartland Expressway project includes four-lane highways spanning nearly 500 (805 kilometers). The expressway would connect Denver and Rapid City, South Dakota, running through Nebraska, and also connect to Interstate 25 in Wyoming.