September 22, 2014

Study: Nebraska’s highways rank #2 in the nation

InterstateA new report shows Nebraska’s highway system ranks among the very best in the country, based on their condition and cost-effectiveness.

The study’s lead author, David Hartgen, with the Reason Foundation, explains how they compile the rankings which show Nebraska at number-two in the nation for the second year in a row.

“Each of the 50 states is required to send detailed information to Washington each year on the condition of pavements and bridges and congestion and so on, and also information on their budgets,” Hartgen says. “We take that information and roll it up and compare it one state versus another, we look at how states are doing on each measure and then how they’re doing overall.”

Nebraska ranks number-one in the nation for rural Interstate pavement condition, 9th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 12th in urban Interstate congestion.

“The interstate system is in pretty good shape,” Hartgen says. “There was no poor mileage reported on the rural interstate for last year and for the urban interstate, only about a half-a-percent of that mileage was rated poor. That’s the 9th best in the country. They also scored pretty well on the rural arterial system.”

In analyzing the budgets for all the billions spent on roads nationwide, Hartgen says the study found Nebraska does a remarkable job, particularly when you consider the size of the state’s road budget.

Interstate 80 shield“Their costs are quite low, relative to other states,” Hartgen says. “On average, they have about half of the amount of money to work with per mile of responsibility than the average state has. So, they have a very thin budget and they’re stretching it out and making it produce a pretty good system.”

Nebraska has ranked number-two in the overall rankings for two years in a row and Hartgen says the Husker State’s been in the top ten for several years. This year, only Wyoming ranked higher. Last year, South Dakota was tops.

On spending, Nebraska ranks 5th in total disbursements per mile and 5th in administrative disbursements per mile. Nebraska’s highways rank 22nd in the fatality rate and 28th in the percentage of deficient bridges. Nebraska’s state-controlled highway mileage makes it the 28th largest system in the country.

To see more on the report, visit: http://reason.org/studies/show/21st-annual-highway-report-states

 

Expert: Gas prices may fall closer to $3/gallon in Nebraska

gas-pump-111With fall arriving next week, gasoline prices are falling in Nebraska — and one analyst says they may dip closer to $3 a gallon by the end of next month.

Gail Weinholzer, at AAA-Nebraska, says the statewide average price for a gallon of self-service unleaded gas is now $3.35, that’s down seven cents a gallon in the past month.

“Demand is dropping off now that all the kids have headed back to school,” Weinholzer says. “Our refineries are meeting demand and as a result, we have ample supply. We also have not had a significant hurricane in the Gulf Coast region to upset crude oil supply there either.”

If all continues to go smoothly, she says pump prices may drop another ten to 20 cents by the end of October, with a couple of variables.

“When we start the switch-over from the summer- to the winter-grade fuel, supplies will tighten up just a little bit, so we could see a very short-term bump in prices,” Weinholzer says. “Again, that will be very limited. Secondly, hurricane season isn’t quite over yet in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions.”

Nebraska’s current average gas price is two-cents below the national average. Nebraska’s most expensive gas is in Columbus at $3.44 while the cheapest gas is in Omaha and Norfolk at $3.26.

 

Omaha receives federal grant for new rapid bus service

U-S Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx made a stop in Nebraska on Monday. He was in Omaha to announce a $15-million federal grant that will be used for a new rapid-bus service line in the city.

Fox says Omaha will continue to see population growth. In many cities the infrastructure can’t keep up with that growth and that is why public transit is so important. He says it gives people another option to get from point “A” to “B”. Fox says it could also put more people to work. He says about one in five people don’t have a car along this corridor so this rapid transit line provides a dependable method of transportation.

The federal grant will pay for about half of the rapid bus service project. The plan calls for more than a half-dozen new buses that will provide the service along the Dodge Street corridor from about 102nd Street to the downtown area. Stops include several hospitals, the University of Nebraska – Omaha campus and the Old Market area.

September is Renewable Fuels Month

September is Renewable Fuels Month in Nebraska and the Nebraska Corn Board wants drivers to know of the renewable fuel options available to them. Kim Clark is the Director of Biofuel Development and says all drivers have options at the pump but those with flex fuel vehicles have more.

Most vehicles operate fine with E10 but those with flex fuel vehicles have more options.  There are also three biodiesel blends, B5, B10 and B20 also available to consumers.

The Nebraska Corn Board reminds drivers that biofuels are better for the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reduces reliance on foreign oil. Using renewable fuels also boosts America’s economy. They remind drivers it is also better for your engine. Ethanol helps keep fuel injectors clean and helps prevent fuel lines from freezing in cold weather.

One reminder for drivers filling up at the pump. Any vehicle older than 2001 can use E10 blends with no problem. Vehicles built after 2001 can use E10 and E15 blends. Flex Fuel Vehicles can use any blend from zero-percent ethanol to E85.   All diesel vehicles can use any of the “B” blends available. This includes vehicles to farm equipment.

Motorists can expect plenty of company on the roads for the holiday

gas-pump-111The last holiday weekend of summer is just ahead and more Nebraskans are expected to be on the road this Labor Day compared to last year. Rose White, at AAA Nebraska, says holiday travel should be picking up nationwide.

“Across the country, we’re expecting that travel will be up about 1.3% from last year with about 34.7 million Americans taking trips 50 miles or more away from home,” White says. “In fact, this will be the highest level of Labor Day travel that we’ve seen in six years.”

Most people who are taking trips for the holiday will be traveling by car, about 86%, according to the motor club’s survey.

“If you are traveling by car, you will see some lower fuel prices that will help make the trip more affordable,” White says. “Some will see the lowest prices for this holiday weekend since 2010. Although we did see an increase in the Midwest fuel prices over the last few weeks, they are now on a downturn.”

U-S oil production is at a record high level, and since the winter-grade fuel is cheaper to produce, White says prices at the pump should continue to drop as we head into fall.

“Here in Nebraska, prices are below the national average,” White says, “with self-serve unleaded averaging about $3.39 a gallon. A year ago, fuel was at $3.56.”

The survey finds Nebraska’s most expensive gas is in Norfork at $3.42 a gallon, while it’s cheapest in Omaha at $3.31.