Infrastructure provides the framework that helps bring communities together and grow our state. Over the years, Nebraska has invested in quality infrastructure, earning us high marks nationally. For example, the Reason Foundation rates our highway system fourth in the nation for performance and cost-effectiveness. During my first two and a half years in office, my team has worked to maintain and invest in our quality infrastructure across the state. Whether it’s accelerated completion of our state’s expressway system, repairing deficient bridges, or cutting red tape, we are taking steps to ensure our state’s infrastructure leads the nation for years to come.
In 2016, I made the Transportation Innovation Act one my top priorities. Working with the Legislature, we targeted $450 million towards accelerated expressway construction, county bridge repairs, and investments in infrastructure projects to help grow Nebraska. Capitol observers hailed the passage of this initiative as “historic” and “landmark” because it promised accelerated completion of the state’s long-delayed expressway system. Last fall, we announced the initial projects funded by the TIA, which include projects across the state from Minatare to Omaha. In the coming years, TIA will build the infrastructure vital to agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism—major industries growing our state and creating new job opportunities for the next generation.
Another major component of the TIA is the County Bridge Match Program, which is delivering innovative solutions and providing additional funding to accelerate the repair and replacement of county bridges. This program will help ensure we continue to build a 21st-century infrastructure system and will encourage counties across the state to use new and innovative ways to address their infrastructure needs. This week, we are celebrating the groundbreaking on the very first bridge in the program in Custer County near Broken Bow. Several more bridges are in the pipeline.
As we invest in our infrastructure and speed up project delivery, we are also maintaining quality and delivering more value for taxpayers. Last year, we worked with the Department of Roads and the Nebraska Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards to deliver major updates to the state’s roads standards. These were common sense changes that maintain quality and give state and local government needed flexibility to address their infrastructure priorities. For example, these updates are allowing counties to replace existing bridge pilings with pilings of the same design, rather than investing in an expensive new bridge built under new construction design standards.
This year, I worked with the Legislature to merge our Department of Roads and Department of Aeronautics to create a new streamlined Department of Transportation (DOT). Nebraska was the last state in the nation without a DOT. This merger will create efficiencies allowing us to put more money into runways and roads, and help us take a more strategic view of our state’s overall infrastructure needs for the long term. The DOT will be responsible for implementing some of the other infrastructure related initiatives we have seen over the past couple years, including the TIA and the County Bridge Match Program.
These are just a few of the many infrastructure initiatives our team has produced. As our state continues to grow so too will our needs for safe, well-managed roads, bridges, and runways. In the coming years, I will continue to work with the DOT, the Nebraska Legislature, and communities across our state to ensure that we maintain the quality infrastructure that Nebraska families and businesses depend on to grow our state. If you have any feedback or suggestions on our infrastructure initiatives or any other matter, I hope you’ll contact my office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 402-471-2244. We look forward to hearing from you!