New Nebraska law authorizes transportation public-private partnerships

May 5, 2022

Keith Goble

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A new Nebraska law covers the use of public-private partnerships for transportation projects.

Gov. Pete Ricketts signed into law the bill to allow the Nebraska Department of Transportation to enter into public-private partnerships for the construction and financing of certain capital projects that include the completion of the state’s expressway system.

In 1988, planning began for the completion of the expressway system. The system has a completion date by 2040.

The system is intended to connect locales with a population of at least 15,000 with Interstate 80.

Projects can be accelerated

Advocates say authorization of public-private partnerships would accelerate the completion of the system that has been delayed in northeast Nebraska.

Sen. Lynne Walz of Freemont has said the highway department needs more tools to speed that process, including a mechanism for a private partner to finance a project and for the state to make payments over time.

“We are a pay-as-you-go state, which seems like the fiscally responsible thing to do, but as we continue to see inflation, wages and supply costs increase, we may not have the financial resources to continue down that path for every project,” Walz said in a recent news release.

She adds that her bill, LB1016, authorizes the department to enter into public-private contracts to allow for the creation of safer bridges and highways, quicker project completion timelines and economic development.

A contractor would also be able to utilize the design-build method – a public-private contracting method for purposes of project delivery.

Additionally, the requirement was removed that the Nebraska State Highway Commission oversee and approve public-private partnership proposals entered into by the NDOT. The requirement that public-private partnership agreements be submitted to the legislature for approval and that lawmakers give prior approval for projects exceeding $100 million also was removed. LL

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Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.