OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The state of Nebraska will soon be getting a massive jolt of money to its infrastructure with over $2 billion going to roads and bridges.
“If done right, then the money does pay off. If done wrong, anything can happen,” said John Bartle, Dean of UNO’s College of Public Affairs.
According to the White House, Nebraska will receive $2 billion dollars for new roads or street improvements. They'll get an additional $225 million for bridges, hoping to repair some structurally deficient bridges across the state.
While it’s a lot of money, Bartle says state leaders need to prioritize projects that help the most people at the lowest cost.
“We need to be even more careful and more vigilant because it’s not really there to be thrown around, it’s there to make society and the economy better,” said Bartle.
While nobody seems to know exactly where this money is going yet with this huge infusion of cash, Jennifer Creager with the Omaha Chamber of Commerce believes Nebraska can go through its roads wishlist much faster.
“I think not only the ability to add to the list but also move through the list a little bit quicker,” said Creager.
The infrastructure money doesn’t stop at highways and bridges. It includes $186 million for public transportation over five years, $100 million for broadband, $358 million for improved drinking water and another $111 million for airport improvements.
“Easy to get over-excited and make these things bigger than they are, but just this sheer amount of money is, it’s very significant, it’s very high by historic standards,” said Bartle.
While it may take years, both Creager and Bartle believe this bill can make noticeable improvements in the lives of Nebraskans, whether it be more bus routes, faster internet or fewer potholes on the way home from work.
“When it’s safe and a reasonable amount of time to travel, I think in the back of their mind people will say, 'I like living here because I can get around well' and I think this bill will contribute to that,” said Bartle.
A spokesperson with the Department of Transportation tells 3 News Now they’re still evaluating the bill and what it means and it will likely be a while before any road projects get underway.