The Gage County Board of Supervisors approved a one and six-year road plan on Wednesday morning that has more than two dozen projects listed for the 2018 year.
Many of the projects listed for 2018 are bridge replacements, culvert repairs around the county and a shoulder project between Wymore and Liberty.
Mark Mainelli of Mainelli Wagner and Associates, who worked on the road plan with Highway Superintendent Galen Engel, said that looking at last year’s road plan shows they got a lot finished. There are some projects that say “delayed,” Mainelli said, but many of those were delayed because they were submitted to the County Bridge Match Program from the Nebraska Department of Transportation but were not approved, though they will be resubmitted.
“Generally, the county and the county staff did an excellent job on accomplishing what we said we wanted to do last year,” Mainelli said.
Mainelli said that the money being spent by the county on road projects is being spent in a thoughtful way. There are plenty of projects that need attention, he said, but by spreading it in multiple locations across the county rather than focusing on a handful of bigger projects, it’s a boost to the economy.
The closure of even the most minor roads would be sad to see, he said, because it would limit the use of the land for years to come. Mainelli said that there are studies which show that repairing even a road with daily traffic of five vehicles will pay off in the long term, especially in farm communities.
“It's not necessarily the number of vehicles, it's the millions of dollars that come out of those fields that we need to take a look at,” Mainelli said. “When you look at state highways, they look at average daily traffic, when I look at ours, I look at millions of dollars in every square mile coming in and out of there. Between cattle and hogs, and corn and soybeans, and everything else.”
Working on smaller projects like culvert repairs does mean that, eventually, the county will run out of projects that can be performed by county staff. The county will have to start investing in contractors to complete work as time goes on, Mainelli said.
“We have thoughtfully looked at each region and spread the infrastructure around,” Mainelli said. “So, if there's a congested area that there's options for everybody, so we're spreading it out evenly across the county so each constituent sees improvement.”