We have discovered several reasons that are causing these key projects to grind to a halt:
1. The state Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) office has found that the Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR), who administers these funds, was in noncompliance with various regulations and procedures on some (non-trail) projects. Therefore, every project in the pipeline is being forced to go back to square one in the process.
2. At the state division of the FHWA, projects are encountering reviews and processing delays that seem unnecessary. Traffic signal installations and minor resurfacing projects must study their effect on endangered species, for example, and trails are treated like major highway projects. Short documents that should be reviewed and approved quickly are taking months because of drafts, reviews, and redrafts.
3. Stimulus projects are moving to the front of the line ahead of trails and other projects that have been funded for years and are ready to go, causing more delays.
4. Government agencies don’t seem to be communicating well. Rules and standards seem to change and procedural issues do not seem to be getting fixed.
What’s the result? Projects that we have been working on and anticipating for years now seem to be facing delays of up to FIVE YEARS! We know that people think they’re doing their jobs. But most of us would like to see these projects built before we’re too old to use them. Also, moving paper and having meetings does not stimulate the economy, create jobs, improve health, or promote sustainable transportation. We as a community must take some action. Therefore, we ask you to email, write, and/or phone any or all of the following people to express your opinion about these issues:
- President Barack Obama www.whitehouse.gov/contact
- Senator Ben Nelson www.bennelson.senate.gov
- Senator Mike Johanns http://johanns.senate.gov/public/?p=EmailSenatorJohanns
- Representative Lee Terry www.leeterry.house.gov
- Governor Dave Heinemann www.governor.nebraska.gov/mail/govmail.html
- Nebraska Department of Roads Director Monty Frederickson firstname.lastname@example.org
- Joseph Werning, Division Administrator, Federal Highway Administrator, Nebraska Division Joseph.Werning@dot.gov
- Mayor Jim Suttle www.cityofomaha.org/mayor/mayors-office-home
Dear (President Obama, Senator Nelson, Senator Johanns, Representative Terry, Governor Heinemann, Mr. Frederickson, Mr. Werning, Mayor Suttle)
I am a member of the Omaha, Nebraska metropolitan community who is vitally interested in trail development, sustainable transportation, and the physical health and vitality of our metropolitan area and its citizens. In our area, we have millions of dollars of trails projects that are funded, designed, and ready to build, yet are not moving forward. These projects will improve our area’s facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists, improve community wellness, and put hundreds of people to work during their construction. Yet, they are being delayed for an indeterminate time because the Federal Highway Administration found the Nebraska Department of Roads to be in noncompliance with various regulations and procedures. This is causing worthy, ready-to-build projects to go back to the beginning of the review process and is blocking efforts to build a healthier, more sustainable community.
I am not an expert on these issues and certainly do not want to cast blame on anyone. I simply would like to see federal and state agencies work together to resolve their issues so these important transportation projects can move forward. I do ask that you do everything in your power to help these agencies resolve their issues and work as partners to expedite these vital trail projects. The health and quality of our metropolitan area depends on it.