New Nebraska roadwork rules proposed to ease standards

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska state board has proposed new road construction rule changes that would ease the standards that cities, counties and the state must follow when rehabilitating roadways.

The Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/1HQTMMm ) reports that the Nebraska Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards hopes the proposed rules will allow roadwork budgets to be stretched further by eliminating right-of-way and construction costs.

“It doesn’t solve all of the financial shortfalls that many of us have, but it makes the dollars we have go farther,” said Roger Figard, who helped craft the proposed rules as chairman of the Nebraska Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards.

The push for new rules is not new. Figard says he expressed interest in updating the state’s rulebook in the 1990s with new road repair standards.

The state has required that road repair projects that go beyond simple maintenance follow standards applied to new road construction. Officials say the new rules would allow governments to be less invasive in the process.

“It gives us more flexibility to do the right thing on our roads,” said Steve Riehle, the Hall County engineer.

Riehle says that in many cases the state’s rules have been stricter than American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials standards, also known as the green book.

“Sometimes some things are worth it, but where do you draw that line?” he said.

New construction changes are also being proposed. Officials propose increasing the minimum bridge width from 20 to 24 feet in most cases, to accommodate big farm equipment.

A hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Dec. 17. The Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards will then determine whether any changes are needed before forwarding the rules to the attorney general and governor for final approval.

State Roads Director Kyle Schneweis said “The revisions will provide great options and put good sense into government practices.”

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