A recent article in the Omaha World Herald, discussed a Nebraska Department of Roads meeting with the Federal Highway Administrator. The meeting was about getting highway projects through the layers of environmental approvals needed and the various delays experienced. Most states and localities try very hard to “dot the I’s” and “cross the T’s” on the environmental issues. I will not get involved with that discussion here.
The interesting point in this article is an example of one interchange/bypass project which received a location decision in 2001. (That is the first hurdle for the process.) A bit more of the process and by August 2007, the cost was expected to be $35 million and ready to go (per the article). Then apparently a third review of the project and now additional comments. The cost of the project is now estimated at $52 million. That is almost a 50% increase.
As we face shortages in the highway funds at every level of government, the cost of delaying a project is eating into what we can afford to accomplished with the funds we have.
We have written before about the shortage of highway funds as well as the rising costs of projects. We continue to encourage public-private partnerships as method of guaranteeing faster project delivery at a guaranteed price.