Senators eye billion-dollar road construction authorization

Senators eye billion-dollar road construction authorization

Semis head west on U.S. 275 where the road splits into four lanes from two at the intersection with Nebraska 15 between Norfolk and Pilger. 

The Legislature’s Revenue Committee on Thursday authorized Sen. Mike Flood of Norfolk to prepare a legislative proposal that would give authority to the governor to commit up to a billion dollars to accelerate highway construction in the state.

That proposal emerged during an executive session discussion of a bill (LB542) introduced by Sen. Lynne Walz of Fremont, which would authorize $400 million in highway bond financing to speed construction of the state’s expressway system.

The driving force behind recent efforts to increase highway construction funding is a desire to complete Nebraska’s four-lane expressway system, which is designed to connect the state’s major communities while providing interconnection with the interstate.

Flood, who is a member of the Revenue Committee, offered to prepare an expanded proposal for the committee’s consideration and was quickly asked to do so.

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If such a plan ultimately was approved by the Legislature, it would be in the toolbox for the next governor if he or she chose to use it. Gov. Pete Ricketts has been opposed to utilization of highway bonds to supplement funding.

When she was a state senator in 2011, U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer won enactment of legislation to speed up highway construction in the state by adding a new funding stream supplied by dedicating revenue from a quarter-cent of the state’s sales tax.

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