Counties in Nebraska can begin applying for new bridge funding next month.
The Department of Roads (NDOR) will cover 55 percent of the cost of a project up to $150,000. A total of $40 million is available.
Kyle Schneweis, NDOR director, said they want innovative ideas from county engineers.
“Finding ways to save money. Maybe forging partnerships at the local level, across county lines, to bundle bridges into one contract that will save money on the construction costs. Looking to reduce redundancies on the system. Looking for ways to remove bridges and replace them with pipes or culverts that are cheaper to install and cheaper to maintain,” Schneweis told reporters at a news conference.
The proposals will be selected by a committee using scoring criteria, including:
- cost or time savings
- sustainability or transferability of innovation
- long-term maintenance savings
- project significance/risk
The program was created through the Transportation Innovation Act (TIA), which was passed during the 2016 legislative session.
Denny Wilson, Sarpy County engineer, says the program will help them chip away at their $20 million dollars in needed bridge work.
“We have two bridges both that are functionally obsolete and structurally deficient,” Wilson told reporters. “What we are looking at for that as a solution is to combine those two bridges with a long culvert that would close that, make it into a square intersection again, provide better traffic flow, and help us on the long-term maintenance.”
Steve Riehle, Hall County engineer, said in addition to the funding help, counties will have more flexibility.
“Sometimes a bridge contractor comes from outside your county to build a bridge and they don’t have the equipment to put in a culvert and the county does,” he said. “We do that work every day throughout the year, so we can work with that contractor, take the parts of the project that are hard for them to do, and we can do that.”
The state Department of Roads is accepting proposals next month and will award projects within six weeks, so work can begin in the spring.