Testimony is Opposition to LB 671 – Proposal to Repeal the Build Nebraska Act

Chairman Gloor and Members of the Revenue Committee:

The Lincoln Independent Business Association offers its opposition to LB 671.

Enacted in 2011, the Build Nebraska Act took major strides toward recommitting our focus on our state’s infrastructure needs. After years of difficulty in keeping up with the maintenance and construction of vital transportation projects, cities and counties have struggled to meet traffic and transportation demands. The Unicameral’s efforts through LB 84 have helped many cities and counties see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Over the past 5 years, cities and counties have relied on money from the Build Nebraska Act to help supplement property taxpayer investments in roads and other transportation infrastructure. This money, and the expectation of future funding, has helped the City of Lincoln and Lancaster County complete much-needed resurfacing projects, street repairs, and new road construction throughout the area. Not only have the benefits already been seen, but with new roads issues being continually identified, the availability of future Build Nebraska Act funds has made all the difference in terms of planning.

Locally, the Build Nebraska dollars earmarked for the South Beltway – which is to be completed in 2023 – will help address serious safety concerns. According to the Nebraska Department of Roads, in 2012, 22% of all traffic on Highway 2 in the City of Lincoln was heavy truck traffic.[1] In 2015, the City of Lincoln reported that traffic counts on the stretch of Highway 2 running through city limits averages up to 33,000 vehicles per day in places.[2] As a result of Lincoln’s large population growth and economic development, heavy truck traffic is forced to travel alongside local traffic commuting to and from work.[3]

The confluence of commercial heavy truck traffic and local traffic on a stretch of highway with multiple signalized intersections has resulted in Nebraska Highway 2 in the city limits of Lincoln facing serious safety issues. Just a few years ago, for example, Lincoln was faced with a truck accident that shut down traffic on Highway 2 on a Husker game day when a truck carrying a total of 34,000 pounds of radioactive waste saw one of two containers slide loose and strike the truck cab.[4] Fortunately, no one was injured and the radioactive waste was fully contained, but the incident provides a clear example of the dangers posed by stop-and-go heavy truck traffic in Lincoln if the South Beltway is not completed.

In the past 15 years, however, 21 people have been tragically killed in 18 car accidents on Highway 2 within the city limits of Lincoln. Of these, 5 directly involved semi-trucks. Pedestrian crossings on this major highway create even further risk as middle school students cross 7 lanes of traffic at the intersection of 48th Street and Highway 2 to attend classes at Pound Middle School on a daily basis. Jeopardizing the completion of important projects across the state by repealing the Build Nebraska Act fails to acknowledge the seriousness of our transportation safety needs.

For these reasons, we ask the Committee not support LB 671 and instead protect the Build Nebraska Act and the important investments it makes in our transportation infrastructure.

 

[1] NDOR Project Development Publication: Lincoln South Beltway, available online at http://www.roads.nebraska.gov/media/1417/fact-sheet.pdf.

[2]2015 Average Daily Traffic Volumes, City of Lincoln Public Works and Utilities Dept., available online at <a href="https://lincoln cialis stripes.ne.gov/city/pworks/engine/traffic/adtv/pdf/map/city2015.pdf">https://lincoln.ne.gov/city/pworks/engine/traffic/adtv/pdf/map/city2015.pdf.

[3] NDOR Project Development Publication: Lincoln South Beltway, available online at http://www.roads.nebraska.gov/media/1417/fact-sheet.pdf.

[4]Midday crash closes part of Highway 2. Zach Pluhacek, Lincoln Journal Star (Sept. 29, 2012), available online at http://journalstar.com/news/local/midday-crash-closes-part-of-nebraska/article_72f886d9 -cbea-567c-963c-64e298d0c6eb.html.