State Department of Roads Director Randy Peters says he hopes Congress re-authorizes the Federal Highway Trust Fund soon.
“We’re looking for re-authorization to go, hopefully, more than six months, more like six years. But Congress needs to act on that before May. We’re just waiting to see,” Peters tells reporters during a conference call on slated Nebraska highway construction projects.
Gov. Dave Heineman says it would seem that the trust fund might be something a normally divided Congress could agree on.
“It seems to me this is one of the areas where you would think there would be bipartisan support at the federal level to do a six-year program rather than a six-month extension,” Heineman says. “I think it’s important for the country. It’s important for the states, I know that. We need the federal government to be a good partner with us.”
Federal money for roads, bridges, and other infrastructure projects will run out May 31st if Congress doesn’t act. It would take approximately $6.5 billion to keep the Highway Trust Fund financed through the end of the fiscal year in September of next year. It would take about $100 billion for a six-year transportation bill.
One of the problems standing in the way of renewal is the erosion of the funding source. More fuel-efficient cars have undermined the gas and diesel tax that haven’t been raised since 1993.
Nebraska completed 107 highway improvement projects this year, 18 more than last year. The Nebraska Department of Roads has let contracts for 150 projects during the 2015 Fiscal Year.
The 21st Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation ranked Nebraska 2nd in the nation for overall highway performance and cost effectiveness.