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Plan to merge Nebraska roads, aeronautics agencies advances

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Posted at 11:56 AM, Mar 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-28 12:58:45-04

A plan to merge Nebraska's roads and aeronautics departments into one agency has won first-round approval from lawmakers.

Senators voted 40-0 on Tuesday to advance a bill that would create a Nebraska Department of Transportation.

Nebraska is the nation's only state without an official transportation department.

Gov. Pete Ricketts submitted the idea as a way to streamline state services, although it's unlikely to generate any major savings.

Ricketts has said the shift would allow the state to pour more money into runway and road projects without sacrificing jobs.

Some senators voiced concerns, saying the measure could mean less emphasis on airport maintenance and upgrades that are critical to Nebraska's economic development.

Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson says the bill will help the state address all of its transportation needs.