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Old 04-14-2008, 12:08 PM
 
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The only problem with all of those plans is that tax income -- usually from the fuel tax -- is dropping or staying level while costs keep rising. Asphalt is now twice the price it was only 18 months ago, according to an official here at the Maine Department of Transportation. Meanwhile high gasoline and diesel prices are forcing people to drive less and buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, so they're buying less fuel (and paying less in taxes). I can't find the reference right now, but something like 38 states are having trouble financing new highway construction projects.

Add in the inevitable problems posed by peak oil -- Saudi Arabia just announced yesterday that it was reducing its oil shipments again -- and any major highway project appears doubtful.
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Old 04-16-2008, 12:59 PM
 
Location: Central Nebraska
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Some postitive news. The legislature passed a bill today where they will take $15 out of the reserve to fund projects that have federal earmarks. A couple newspapers have mentioned the Heartland Expressway as one of the projects, so will I guess we will see what happens.
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Old 04-19-2008, 06:46 AM
 
Location: Nebraska
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To get adequate funding for any project is difficult. A highway that would be used primarily for tourism (shuttling people)is harder to get funded than a major artery for goods transport (shuttling sellable goods). That's why the Mexican/Canadian route is getting so much funding, while other routes suffer. I.E., we have a single route for hurricane evacuation, I-95, that runs the entire n/s corridor from Maine to FL; it was really only built to enhance goods trafficking, but evacuees use it (often erroneously because one should evacuate WEST not NORTH for hurricanes!). It becomes clogged and failing every time there is a threat, impacting not only those states in the hurricane's path but the interstate transport of goods. We cannot get funding however for any westward evacuation route because the "need" (and the money) isn't there for shuttling people, only goods.

Some things you have to consider are how much it would cost to purchase the property for the interstate; since all property is owned by someone, they should be compensated for that aquisition. One property owner demanded and got $1 million for a 90-foot long, 45-foot wide piece of property for a road widening project. The only other way is to condemn such property and take it; which many governments do not like to do ("takings" legislation "for the good of all" is seen in a very dim light by property-rights people). Property payments for a large project such as you describe can add literally billions to a highway project.

Interstates are literally failing in many parts of the country because when the system was started in '64, no one understood that the cost of maintaining these roads would escalate far more than their initial costs. Now estimates for construction have to include projected maintenance cost estimates as well. Add that to the costs for exits (every community wants an exit and will fight for it because it adds to commercial development) and the needs for 'pit stops' - refueling, overnight stays, etc - and your costs continue to escalate.

If you can get monies from other sources - i.e., Homeland Security for evacuation and transport, commercial developments that know that an expressway will quadruple their profits and so donate land to the project, etc - you can come close. But it takes a lot of different folks from all communities involved to get something that is not started at the Federal top, as the Mex/Canadian Superhighway was, to ensure funding or at least matching funds for such a project.
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Old 04-22-2008, 08:57 AM
 
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota
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I don't think the Heartland Expressway would be considered as a Highway that promotes tourism. Another major artery is needed on the Great Plains and I-25 is WAY to overused. I agree that funding would be difficult, but I believe that this project could really pay off in many ways.
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Old 04-22-2008, 05:22 PM
 
Location: South Dakota
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I agree with DannyBanany is right and feel that the highway (in the Colorado stretches, escpecially) will take some of congestion off of I-25 and will improve Mexico/US/Canada routes. Looking at the map, there is a clear lack of logical north/south freeways and expressways in this part of the country.

The highway would get used just more than a tourism highway and will be used for truckers, industry, agriculture, and people trying to get from Point A to Point B with greater ease.

The aging interstate and road systems can get fixed properly with a little bit of planning and additional priority. It would be harder for the states to raise additional money by tacking on more per gallon and would be better served by increasing licensing fees for motorists by a small and nominal amount. People use the road and expect it to be well-maintained, but need to pay for the upkeep and additional roads if they want nice roads.

Personally, I would rather have the states collect tax money and use it in areas where they need it. This would cut down on the federal bureaucracy/red tape and the states would be better at managing the money instead of it being subject to the whims of Washington, DC. The federal government can maintain a transportation department that sets standards (for insterstate highways and US highways) and does research on improvements to the road systems and safety. The states, such as South Dakota and Nebraska, have a better idea of what their trasportation dollars should go towards than the Federal government and the whims of Congress.

Last edited by Chris19; 04-22-2008 at 05:32 PM..
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Old 05-04-2008, 08:00 AM
 
Location: Central Nebraska
1,821 posts, read 4,623,839 times
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Another update for those interested:
Star-Herald - Governor moves up Expressway projects (http://www.starherald.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19659173&BRD=484&PAG=461&dept_id=5 53251&rfi=6 - broken link)

Thank goodness the Kimball bypass will be done. If you haven't been on the road, you have to get off the interstate and drive through town at 25 mph in parts. Then north of town it turns into 4 lane expressway to Scottsbluff/Gering. It really is a pain for trucks.
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Old 05-06-2008, 06:44 AM
 
Location: Nebraska
4,179 posts, read 9,371,142 times
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Something else to consider -
Your local COGs (Councils of Government) set priorities for the state and Federal monies; the Federal projects are called the STIP list. The COG (a council of representatives from counties and towns) lists the desired projects in order of priority due to a set list of priority requirements. What one area COG deems a necessity might not be what their neighboring COG deems a necessity. In a widespread system like an expressway or interstate, that covers many counties and regions, unless they work together and have similar requirements on the top of their STIP lists, the projects are not considered, or are only considered piecemeal (and usually unfundable). The US DOT are the ones who determine where and which monies go to Fed projects. Remember that with such a vast project, there has to be a determination of future costs for maintenance as well. The best thing to do for Fed funding is for several COGs to get together and send a representative body to Washington to meet not only with their Representatives and Senators, but the US DOT. This will show that they are all on the same page for the expansion of the expressway. Hiring a lobbyist wouldn't hurt either. However, bear in mind that there is a current outcry against "earmarks" in the US Legislature; since it is an election year, many legislators are signing on to the "no new earmarks" push. Your legislators can try to fund such a project in a variety of other ways, but having the US DOT as well as your legislators all on the same page and singing the same song about the necessity of such a project would help immensely.

Oftentimes too, many local COG representatives are into power plays, one-upmanship, and what is good for THEIR communities only. Local COGs may already be paying debt service on previously funded roads and may not have the yearly-assigned Federal dollars to set aside for future projects.
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Old 05-06-2008, 07:16 AM
 
Location: Central Nebraska
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Actually the reason this stretch is getting done is because it had a federal earmark. It just took the state forever to pay their portion to get the earmark. They had several projects in the state that had earmarks, so the state took $15 million out of the reserve to pay the states portion of all these projects that had earmarks.
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Old 05-14-2008, 10:08 PM
 
370 posts, read 1,156,872 times
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Just drove from I-80 at Ogallala to Rapid City. US385 is NOT 4 lanes from Rapid City to the NE border. Only SD 79 south from Rapid to Hot Springs is 4 lanes.

I've also been on NE 71 from Kimball to Scottsbluff and 26/link/385 to Alliance. 71 is 4 lanes from just north of Kimball to Scottbluff/US26, then east to Minataire. Then it is 2 lanes to the link that connects to 385 north.
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Old 05-16-2008, 10:37 PM
 
Location: South Dakota
1,961 posts, read 6,153,406 times
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I would certainly consider taking that strech where the Hearland Expressway if it was all or mostly 4-laned. I agree with the prior post that US 385 is not 4-laned in South Dakota and SD 79 is four-laned from Rapid City to Hot Springs and there is a lot of 2-lane betwen Hot Springs to Scottsbluff. I know that South Dakota is working to widen its portion to the Nebraska portion, although it is slowed down some due to highway funding becoming more difficult.
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