Merger of departments of roads and aeronautics moves forward | Nebraska Legislature

In 2007, Lincoln Sen. DiAnna Schimek introduced a bill that would have changed the name of the Department of Roads to the Department of Transportation.

It would have cost $5,000 to change decals on equipment, road signs, stationery. 

The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, headed then by former Sen. Deb Fischer, killed the bill on a 6-1 vote.  

Nebraska was the only state at the time to have a Department of Roads rather than a Department of Transportation. And it still is today. 

But maybe not for long. 

The Legislature advanced a bill (LB339) Tuesday, introduced by Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson, that would combine the Department of Roads with the Department of Aeronautics and change the name to the Department of Transportation. 

The financial impact is said to be negligible. There’s no mention of the cost to change signs and other Department of Roads and Department of Aeronautics supplies. 

The bill advanced on a 40-0 vote.

While eight people spoke in favor of LB339 at its hearing, a couple of people opposed it. They represented the Nebraska Pilots and the Fairbury Airport. 

With the bill, the director of the division of aeronautics would be appointed by and report to the Department of Transportation director. Funds received by the division of aeronautics for the hourly lease of state aircraft would only be used for the plane’s preventative maintenance.

Omaha Sen. Bob Krist had concerns, including whether money meant for aviation purposes would be fused in with the Department of Transportation and used for roads. 

Friesen said federal law prohibits diverting aeronautics money for other purposes, and firewalls are built into the bill to prevent any mixing of that money. 

There is no fiscal impact, but down the road there may be some efficiencies to be gained from the merger, including the sharing of equipment and…

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