What You Need to Know About the Transportation Innovation Act

back country highway with a truck in black and whiteOn April 18th, Governor Pete Ricketts signed a $450 million act, also known as LB960 and fully readable here, as a result of the combined efforts of the Nebraska Department of Roads, the Nebraska legislature’s Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, and the Governor’s office.

As you know from previous posts on our blog, transportation and logistics are integral to manufacturing supply chain efforts. Therefore, changes to the infrastructure can be immensely impactful for many Nebraska businesses.

According to Better Roads News, “Across Nebraska, the Transportation Innovation Act will help to build the infrastructure that Nebraskans use to see their families, drive to work, and get to school every day,” Governor Ricketts announced. “Agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism, our state’s three largest industries, depend on a 21st-century infrastructure to grow and expand. Accelerating work on our expressway systems and investing in projects that help grow and expand businesses, will help kick-start economic growth in these areas.”

Whether or not you’re a manufacturer, you may be wondering what exactly the Transportation Innovation Act entails for Nebraska roads. Here are a few of the key points from the report:

Accelerated Completion of Nebraska’s Expressway System: The act reads: “The purpose of the program is to accelerate capital improvement projects to provide the earliest possible mobility, freight, and safety benefits to the state, thereby accelerating enhancements to the state’s economy and the quality of life of the general public. The department shall develop the program. The projects eligible for funding under the program include construction of the expressway system and federally designated high priority corridors and needs-driven capacity improvements across the state.” Translated, this means that some highway projects that have been put on the back burner may finally be completed, like the four-lane Highway 81 project from York to Columbus.

According to the York-News Times, this highway could make a major difference for the state’s GDP as well as for its citizens: “Expansion of Highway 81 would add $1.2 billion to the state’s gross domestic product, through expanded economic development. And it would annually support an additional 1,858 Nebraska jobs and 4,221 in state population. It also showed that by finally constructing the additional lanes, it would cut down the impact of accidents. And the extra lanes would provide for less commute times for workers in York, Polk and Platte Counties.”

Economic Opportunity Program: “No more than $20 million shall be expended for this program. The purpose of the program is to finance transportation improvements to attract and support new businesses and business expansions by successfully connecting such businesses to Nebraska’s multimodal transportation network and to increase employment, create high-quality jobs, increase business investment, and revitalize rural and other distressed areas of the state.”

Translation: It takes too long to build infrastructure, and there are growing companies here in Nebraska that just don’t have good access to roads and byways. Earlier in a weekly column before the bill was passed, Ricketts said, “The TIA does not only target resources for completing Nebraska’s expressway system, but it also creates new tools to make road construction more effective. Right now, Nebraska utilizes a design-bid-build process that takes 7-12 years to complete projects from start to finish.” So, hopefully this funding and act will make it more efficient to add transportation infrastructure for new business.

County Bridge Match Program: Thanks to this program, $40 million will be spent on “promoting innovative solutions and providing additional funding to accelerate the repair and replacement of deficient bridges on the county road system.” The act terminates in 2023, so there’s a good amount of time to spend making sure it’s easy and safe to travel through Nebraska.

We hope that this bill will help both the manufacturing industry and Nebraska’s economy by providing safer and better roads for all areas of the state. Questions? Comments? Want to learn more? Leave them in the section below, any time!

photo credit: Vega via photopin (license)