Transportation Initiative to Accelerate Roads Projects Unveiled by Governor Ricketts, Chairman Smith
Taylor Gage, Governor’s Office, 402-471-1970
Jeni Lautenschlager, Roads Department, 402-479-4512
Lisa Johns, Chairman’s Office, 402-471-2730
Targeted investments to accelerate Nebraska’s road construction
LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and Transportation & Telecommunications Committee Chairman Jim Smith unveiled an innovative transportation initiative to accelerate roads construction, repair county bridges, and promote economic growth. At a news conference members of the Transportation Committee as well as business and civic leaders joined Governor Ricketts and Chairman Smith to support the creation of a transportation infrastructure bank.
The creation of a transportation infrastructure bank will be one of the Governor’s legislative initiatives for the 2016 legislative session. The infrastructure bank, which will be administered by the Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR), will help the State of Nebraska accelerate roads construction, provide matching funding to counties to expedite bridge repair, and fund transportation projects that support industry expansion as well as attract businesses to Nebraska.
“The infrastructure bank honors Nebraska’s history of prioritizing transportation funding, and continues Nebraska’s pay-as-you-go practice for roads,” continued Governor Ricketts. “Targeted investments in our transportation system through prioritized spending will help our state continue to grow. Unlike other states that have relied on debt to build roads, Nebraska budgets for our priorities, and I have been pleased to work with Senator Smith and the Transportation Committee on innovative ideas like the infrastructure bank.”
Under the proposal, up to $150 million will be phased in through cash reserve transfers to fund three programs in the infrastructure bank:
- The Accelerated State Highway Capital Improvement Program – Accelerate capital improvement projects. The intent of this program is to provide the earliest possible mobility, freight, and safety benefits to the state by fast-tracking highway construction projects.
- The County Bridge Match Program – Provide additional funding to aid in repair and replacement of deficient bridges in the county road system by promoting optional, innovative solutions through matching funds. Matching funds criteria will be determined by NDOR.
- The Economic Opportunity Program – Support new businesses and expansions by connecting them to Nebraska’s transportation network. NDOR will develop criteria and administer the program in consultation with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.
This proposal authorizes NDOR to use a Design-Build process to accelerate Nebraska’s most expensive and complex roads construction projects. Currently, NDOR must use a Design-Bid-Build process for transportation projects, which results in a 7-12 year timeframe to build new roads. The Design-Build process is anticipated to reduce the completion timeframe by 2-4 years.
“Building infrastructure in a fiscally-responsible manner is a key to how we grow Nebraska,” said Governor Ricketts. “Every day, Nebraskans rely on our transportation infrastructure to take kids to school, care for their families, get to work, and transport products to market.”
Over the interim, the Legislature’s Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Smith led a series of hearings on roads priorities across the state. At those hearings, individuals, stakeholders, and NDOR Director Kyle Schneweis weighed in on potential proposals. As hearings progressed, support built for the concept of the infrastructure bank as a way to responsibly budget for roads and avoid putting the state into debt.
"As we traveled the state, the committee heard loud and clear the importance of infrastructure and the need to expedite the construction and repair of critical roads and bridges in our state,” said Chairman Smith. “This collaborative effort is a clear and direct response to the concerns we heard during our hearings. I'm grateful to Governor Ricketts for making this one of his legislative initiatives this year."
Senator Smith anticipates introducing the legislation following the Governor’s State of the State address which will be delivered at 10:00am on Thursday, January 14, 2016.