ROADS/BRIDGES: Proposed Nebraska ‘infrastructure bank’ draws support and concern

Feb. 17, 2016

Nebraska is considering a proposal to create a "transportation infrastructure bank" to provide up-front money for major highway projects 

Nebraska lawmakers are proposing a “transportation infrastructure bank” to make funds immediately available for major highway projects. Nebraska Sen. Jim Smith and Gov. Pete Ricketts are urging the bill’s passage, as it will accelerate the completion of the long-promised Heartland Expressway and other infrastructure improvements.

"It will accelerate completion of the Heartland Expressway. It will encourage state and county partnerships to bring dilapidated bridges up to standard. It will stimulate economic growth ... and it will modernize contracting methods to stretch our dollars further," Smith said.  

Supporters of the bill would like to take $150 million from the state’s cash reserve over seven years to fund the bank.

It is not an alternative to the Build Nebraska Act—which sets aside a quarter-cent of the state's sales tax for road projects—but builds on what has been done to date, Smith said. 

The Appropriations Committee decides on funding decisions for the state and had a few reservations when asked to make funding for roads and bridges a priority. One area of concern is what kind of economic return the state will get for its $150 million investment from the cash reserve and whether the proposed amount of money, along with other funding sources, will be sufficient to fix the state’s crumbling infrastructure. 

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