Senator Nelson says that cutting some federal red tape could greatly speed up recovery from this year’s flooding.
Floodwaters from the Missouri River will recede someday. They have already started to recede from the North Platte River. Once they do, repairs to roads and bridges will begin. At least, they will begin to begin.
Nelson says federal regulations could greatly delay repairs. He has introduced legislation that would exempt repairs made to roads and bridges damaged by this year’s flooding from environmental regulations. Nelson says his bill would allow repairs to skip environmental review, which he calls duplicative.
“Now, it might seem odd, but maybe not surprising, that just fixing a road, highway or bridge at the same place, and I emphasize at the same place – it’s already gone through a complete environmental review process when it was built – would now be subject to a new round of red tape involving lengthy and expensive review,” Nelson says.
Nelson’s legislation would only apply to reconstruction to restore roads and bridges to pre-flood conditions.
The Nebraska Department of Roads brought the issue to the senator’s attention. Department officials say three dozen roads and bridges damaged by flooding last year have yet to be repaired, despite receiving federal emergency funding. They blame the delay on federal red tape. Those projects are scattered over several counties, including Antelope, Blaine, Burwell, Dodge, McPherson, Madison, Norfolk, O’Neill, and Sioux.