Coming Together to Grow 1.22.16

22 Jan 2016


News Articles, transportation

Coming Together to Grow

Lisa Hurley, York County Development Corporation

 

Roads.  Are you tired of hearing me talk about them yet?  I hope not, because we have reached a critical junction in proposed capital projects becoming priority projects.  On Tuesday, January 19, York County Commissioner Randy Obermier and I attended a Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) public meeting on their prioritization.  We both walked away knowing our region has to be very vocal, or projects we are interested may be left behind.

NDOR is updating its capital improvement project prioritization process to reflect economic impact.  It is also identifying the next 10 years of projects for the Build Nebraska Act.  These projects are not slated to start until 2023, unless additional funding is allocated.  The NDOL is looking for input from citizens, businesses and civic leaders.  They also want to know what projects you support, and why they are important to you.  If we don’t comment, projects like the Highway 81 4-lanes Expressway or six lanes from Seward to York on I-80, both proposed projects with Build Nebraska Act, will not be included in this prioritization, and will not happen.  Please go to this website, and fill out the comment card prior to February 5, 2016.    http://www.roads.nebraska.gov/projects/bna/next10/

Why should we include Highway 81 as a priority in our comments? Between 2019 and 2032, the expansion would add $1.2 billion to the states GDP via expanded economic development, and support an addition of 1,858 jobs per year to the state’s economy.  The Economic Impact Study also shows the project annually supporting 4,221 in state population.  In addition, it is time for the State to honor their commitment and to finish the expressways.

Senator Smith introduced LB960 which would adopt the Transportation Act, provide transfers from the Cash Reserve fund not to exceed $150,000 million, and allow the NDOL the ability to use tools such as Design Build.  These funds, along with the procedural changes on projects, would speed existing projects up, and allow NDOR to start on the next 10 years of projects earlier than 2023.  It will be interesting to see how the final bill shapes up. I hope we see, as Governor Rickett’s proposes, a 21st Century infrastructure system develop on our highways to support residents, tourists and industrial/business travel.  You may follow this legislation at:  http://nebraskalegislature.gov/bills/view_bill.php?DocumentID=28845

York, Polk, and Platte Counties partnered together to fund a Highway 81 Economic Impact Study.  Attend a Town Hall Meeting where Dr. Ernie Goss will present results of the Highway 81 Economic Impact Study on February 11, 2016, 5:30. It will be held at Chances R Restaurant & Lounge, Tommy-Suz Garden.

 

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