Boone County delegation seeks highway improvements

A delegation from Boone County traveled to South Sioux City, NE to attend the Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) District 3 planning meeting Tuesday night, Oct. 28.

Shirley Petsche, Andrew Devine, Shannon Landauer, Robert Racek and Hank Thieman all made the trip to support highway maintenance and improvements in the county.

NDOR Director John Craig, District 3 Commissioner John Kingsbury, District 3 Engineer Kris Winters, and Randy Peters of the NDOR planning team gave the 50-60 attendees an overview of the 2009 fiscal year roads program and described funding concerns for the district and the state.

The current tool for generating revenue is fuel tax, they noted. With relatively high fuel prices, the green movement and new innovations, there is a trend of decreasing fuel consumption. While this is good for the environment and arguably for the diversity of the economy, it means that revenues for road construction and maintenance are also in a downward trend.

The department is actively facing this predicament and has prioritized maintenance of current roadways over new capital projects. They also formed a Funding Distribution Team to create a transparent process for evaluating the criteria of capital improvements so they may be fairly prioritized.

District 3 Commissioner Kingsbury noted that Nebraska is fortunate to have a non-political process for determining roads funding. He said he feels that if we left distribution and funding up to the Legislature, we would see a heavier influence of politics and earmarks determining what state road projects get funded, rather than what projects really should have priority.