January 12, 2018 (Lincoln, Neb.) — Today, the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) announced 22 proposals were selected from 68 submitted in December for the second round of the County Bridge Match Program (CBMP). The program was created as a result of the 2016 Transportation Innovation Act (TIA), signed into law by Governor Ricketts in April of 2016.
“Over the last twenty months the Department of Transportation has worked with our partners to implement a program that meets the intentions of the Transportation Innovation Act,” said NDOT Director Kyle Schneweis. “I am proud of how the CBMP has come together in a short period of time to provide assistance to our communities by addressing critical needs within Nebraska’s transportation system. NDOT has been fortunate to have the support of Nebraska’s citizens for such critical infrastructure projects.”
The CBMP provides funding to counties for the innovative replacement and repair of deficient county bridges. The second Request for Proposals (RFP) was announced in October, with $4 million to be distributed to counties across Nebraska. Proposals were submitted by 59 counties and included 165 bridges.
The CBMP will fund 55 percent of eligible bridge construction cost with counties providing a 45 percent match. The selected proposals include 35 counties and 66 bridges at a total construction cost of $8.5 million of which $ 4 million is from the CBMP. Selected proposals are listed on the NDOT website at www.dot.nebraska/projects/tia/bridge-match/.
It appears state lawmakers are on the verge of repealing the state motorcycle helmet law.
Sen. John Lowe of Kearney fell one vote short of overcoming a filibuster last year, but has a second chance after Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha prioritized his bill this year.
“I urge you to allow a vote on LB 368 and I urge you to vote yes on returning freedoms to your fellow citizens,” Lowe told colleagues as he opened debate on the bill.
Legislative Bill 368 would repeal the requirement that adult motorcycle riders must wear a helmet in Nebraska. Motorcyclists 20-years-old and younger would still be required to wear helmets. Children under six would not be allowed to ride on a motorcycle.
Sen. Robert Hilkemann of Omaha leads the filibuster against the bill. He told senators during floor debate Monday that helmet use fell 50% in states which repealed the law.
“And in every state that has repealed their helmet law, they have an increase in the number of head injuries or deaths,” Hilkemann stated.
Supporters of LB 368 cast their support in terms of personal freedom. Some even state it is a matter of civil liberties. Opponents emphasize safety and the heavy cost of treating traumatic brain injuries which are often borne by taxpayers.
Sen. Steve Erdman of Bayard said the state has no right to force motorcyclists to wear helmets.
“This is an infringement on the motorcycle rider’s rights and I believe, once and for all, we need to settle this and repeal the helmet law,” Erdman said during legislative debate.
But, Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha related stories about motorcyclists who lost their lives, because they failed to wear helmets.
“And so, when we think about what it means to be safe on the road, when we think about what these helmets mean, these helmets can often mean somebody coming home,” Howard said.
A motorcycle helmet repeal bill has become an annual event at the state Capitol as had a filibuster to block a vote. This year could be different.
State lawmakers debated the issue for three hours Monday afternoon. Lowe convinced Speaker Jim Scheer he has the 33 votes needed to overcome the filibuster and go to a vote on the bill. Scheer has scheduled additional debate for Wednesday afternoon when, after an additional three hours, presumably a vote will be taken to end the filibuster and go to a vote on the bill.
NSP Urges Nebraskans to Prepare for Winter Storm
JANUARY 9, 2018 (LINCOLN, NEB.) — The Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) is urging motorists to be prepared for the potential of hazardous conditions with an expected winter storm this week. The storm could make driving difficult in various parts of the state.
“The storm forecasted for this week could make for dangerous driving conditions across a large portion of the state,” said Colonel John Bolduc, Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol. “Drivers should be prepared by staying up-to-date on the forecast and plan ahead if you need to travel.”
Travelers are urged to stay up-to-date on travel conditions with information available through Nebraska 511, Nebraska’s Advanced Traveler Information System. The system is available at all times via phone by dialing 511, online at www.511.nebraska.gov, or Nebraska 511’s smartphone app.
NSP also issues the following reminders for motorists traveling in extreme weather conditions:
- Always wear your seat belt and never drive faster than conditions allow.
- Blowing and drifting snow can reduce visibility. Travel only when absolutely necessary.
- If you must travel, use well-traveled routes and give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. Let others know where you are going, your route, and when you will arrive.
- If you do become stranded while traveling, stay in your vehicle until help arrives. Wind chill and freezing temperatures can be life threatening.
- If your vehicle becomes stuck, run your motor sparingly and keep a window cracked to prevent buildup of carbon monoxide.
- Carry a red flag or bandana in your car and attach it to the outside to signal for help.
Be sure to keep a winter weather survival kit in your vehicle as you travel. Some basic items to include are: First Aid Kit, phone charger, ice scraper, shovel, small bag of sand, flashlight with extra batteries, blankets or sleeping bags, extra clothing and winter accessories, jumper cables, tow rope, tool kit, matches, candles, red flag or bandana, high energy or dehydrated foods, and bottled water.
The NSP Highway Helpline is available 24 hours per day for motorists in need of assistance. Drivers can reach NSP by dialing *55 from any cell phone. Call 911 for any emergency.