AASHTO Journal, 30 September 2016
Gov. Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Department of Roads said they will direct $300 million in coming years into new transportation projects that are paid for by two targeted state funding laws.
The Sept. 22 announcement said that includes eight projects funded for construction, beginning of design work on 12 more and planning for two others.
Part of the money comes from the 2011 Build Nebraska Act, a 20-year funding measure that reassigned one-fourth of a cent of existing general state sales tax receipts to state and local highways, roads and streets, with 85 percent going to the NDOR to expand and build high-priority projects including the expressway system.
The first of the funds became available in the fall of 2013, and the NDOR said that over the full 20 years the law is expected to generate $1.2 billion for transportation.
Funding also comes from this year’s Transportation Innovation Act, or TIA, through which the Legislature allowed a one-time transfer in July of $50 million from the state’s cash reserve into an infrastructure bank, and will provide more than $400 million through 2033 in state motor fuel taxes. That measure aims to accelerate capital improvements to roads and bridges.
Referring to the TIA, Ricketts said the projects announcement “follows a historic commitment from the state of Nebraska to build the 21st-century infrastructure we need to grow our state.”
Before selecting this round of projects, the NDOR said it engaged with more than 2,000 stakeholders as the agency updated and expanded its prioritization process and identified priorities.
“This round of Build Nebraska Act and Transportation Innovation Act projects will help deliver great transportation improvements and expand our expressway system across our state,” said NDOR Director Kyle Schneweis. “We know these projects will have a positive impact on our communities and help to grow our economy. We also know Nebraskans support these projects because of our first-ever public input process during which we talked extensively with and listened carefully to taxpayers across the state.”
Since this projects list represents only a portion of the funds the state has available for capital improvement, the NDOR said it will continue to program additional funds in future years to address new transportation priorities and opportunities.
All eight projects slated for construction are projected to begin by 2024, although one will be the state’s first design-build project and will begin earlier. The TIA authorized use of the design-build process, which allows the NDOR to bid out both the design and construction phases to a single contractor to allow speedier project development.