Nebraska bills seek funds to finish expressway system

| 3/4/2008

The Nebraska expressway system is getting a lot of attention at the Capitol this year.

State legislators are considering several bills that would help complete the expressway system, which has been in the works for two decades. About 180 miles of the 600-mile plan still need to be completed.

Supporters say work on the system needs to be finished up to boost economic development throughout the state. Others say they are concerned about the amount of large truck traffic routed through towns.

With those concerns in mind, several lawmakers have taken up the fight to find funding to finish links in the four-lane system designed to connect midsize cities with Interstate 80.

Unfinished portions of the system include U.S. 275 between Omaha and Norfolk; U.S. 81 between Columbus and York; U.S. 75 between Bellevue and Nebraska City; U.S. 30 between Schuyler and Freemont; U.S. 77 between Wahoo and Fremont; state Highway 2 near Lincoln; and state Highway 71 from I-80 to north of Kimball.

Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk has introduced a bill – LB1129 – that would require the Nebraska Department of Roads to prioritize completion of the expressway system. A separate legislative resolution – LR232 – offered by Flood would require public hearings and updates from the department.

Three bills would transfer money from the state’s cash reserve to help complete the roads system. Sen. LeRoy Louden of Ellsworth introduced a bill – LB1035 – that would earmark $16 million from the state’s reserve for work on the stretch of road connecting Columbus and Fremont.

A separate effort – LB1139 – from Sen. Joel Johnson of Kearney would route $73 million from the state’s reserve to connect Norfolk to Omaha via Columbus and Fremont. Sen. Tim Gay of Papillion introduced another bill – LB771 – that would send $50 million from the reserve for work. It doesn’t designate money for any specific highway.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Nebraska, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor