Gov. Ricketts Highlights Modern, Fiscally-Responsible Roads Standards
Taylor Gage, Governor’s Office, 402-471-1970
Vicki Kramer, Roads Department, 402-479-4512
New roads standards will help taxpayer dollars go farther in rural Nebraska
LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) highlighted major updates to the state’s roads standards recently approved by the Governor and the Nebraska Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards (NBCS). This revision modernizes Nebraska’s requirements for new construction and preservation of state highways, county roads, and municipal streets in Nebraska.
“Whether you’re taking your children to school, driving to work, or moving equipment for your farm or ranch, infrastructure helps to connect Nebraskans to their communities and one another,” said Governor Ricketts. “These common sense changes not only modernize our state’s roads and bridge standards, but will also help your hard-earned taxpayer dollars go further as state and local government partner together to build the 21st-century infrastructure Nebraska needs to continue to grow.”
This announcement builds on infrastructure initiatives launched over the first year and a half of Governor Ricketts’ administration. Last summer, the Governor and NDOR announced the state would return additional roads funding to local governments through the state’s federal funds swap program. This session, the Governor proposed and signed the Transportation Innovation Act, which aims to accelerate construction of the state’s expressway system, help facilitate bridge repair, and support infrastructure projects tied to economic development goals.
“These updates to our roads and bridge standards maintain the quality that Nebraskans deserve, while giving the state and local government the flexibility they need to address their infrastructure priorities,” said Department of Roads Director Kyle Schneweis. “As we work together with local government to build quality infrastructure, we will continue to identify areas in which the state can help cut red tape and barriers for Nebraska’s cities and counties in the area of infrastructure and roads.”
These comprehensive revisions and major updates represent over three years of collaboration between state, county, municipal, and private sector experts under the leadership of the Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards (NBCS). The result fully aligns Nebraska’s standards with modern criteria and industry practices.
Key changes to the state’s road and bridge design standards include:
- Permits counties and municipalities to use the “3R Standard” (Resurfacing, Restoration, and Rehabilitation). Examples of 3R work include adding auxiliary lanes, minor widening of lanes and shoulders, safety improvements to curves, improvements to bridges, and removal of roadside obstacles. This extends the same 3R Standards to municipalities and counties that NDOR has had access to since 1985.
- Completes comprehensive updates to the minimum design standards (MDS) for all public roadways in Nebraska. Under the MDS updates, standards are lowered for certain road classifications frequently found in rural communities. These roads have traffic volumes under 400 vehicles per day. For example, these updates will allow counties to replace existing bridge pilings with pilings of the same design, rather than investing in a new bridge built under new construction design standards. Higher standards will still apply to roads in the “other principal arterial” classification. These changes are consistent with national roads and bridge standards.
- Eliminates outdated MDS and makes other technical and stylistic changes.
“These revisions offer greater flexibility to local highway and street departments and still maintain a safe transportation system,” said NBCS Chair and Lincoln City Engineer Roger Figard. “These revisions represent more than three years of collaboration and work from stakeholders across the state. It is extremely gratifying to see the changes finalized. Thank you to Governor Ricketts, Director Schneweis, and the numerous individuals and groups who contributed to our efforts to modernize these standards over the past few years.”
“Giving cities and counties the ability to utilize resurfacing, restoration, and rehabilitation standards for the first time is a big win for local government in Nebraska,” said Hall County Engineer Steve Riehle. “This option enables common-sense, practical, and cost-saving solutions for extending the useful life of roads and bridges and for making safety improvements. Prior to this option, counties and municipalities either had to meet full construction standards or else go through an extensive waiver process, which increased the cost and time it took to complete projects.”
These regulations were presented at a public hearing on March 11, 2016 and adopted by the NBCS on March 25, 2016. The updated regulation became effective on May 17, 2016 following approval from Governor Ricketts. Additional details about the new minimum roads standards, also known as 428 NAC 2 Regulation, can be found at NDOR’s webpage here.
About the Nebraska Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards
The Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards oversees annual construction planning and fiscal reporting for state and local highways, roads, and streets, as well as the application of minimum design, construction, and maintenance for public roadways. The eleven-member board is appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature.