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Transportation officials discuss need for more funding, efficiency

House and Senate lawmakers will try to work out differences in transportation bills when they return to session next week.

David Kim of the Federal Highway Administration met with local and state transportation officials Monday in Omaha to discuss infrastructure needs. Kim says in Nebraska, 24 percent of bridges are structurally deficient, and 59 percent of roads are in poor condition.

Second District Congressman Brad Ashford says transportation isn’t just a safety issue, but also one of economic development and population growth.

"We need to attract young people to Nebraska throughout the state, and to Omaha, and to the metro area. And that means having a good transportation system. And yes, we have advantages. We are a 20 minute city. But because we’re a 20 minute city, we have a greater opportunity to leverage that 20 minute city concept in to a diversified transportation system."

Kim says a bill called the Grow America Act would bring $341 million in federal highway funding to Nebraska. He says federal officials must account for technology, weather, population growth, and the modes of transportation young people want when looking at funding.

Ashford says a long-term transportation funding bill is needed. If an agreement isn’t worked out by the end of October, an extension will be needed.