Rural Transportation | Speaking of Nebraska | NET Nebraska

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Rural Transportation | Speaking of Nebraska | NET Nebraska

S S >> WITH A LACK OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AND LIMITED HIGHWAY COVERAGE, IT CAN BE TOUGH TO GET AROUND IN RURAL NEBRASKA WE TAKE A LOOK AT ONGOING EFFORTS TO EXPAND THE EXPRESSWAY SYSTEM AND A STATEWIDE FOCUS ON MOBILITY PLUS, LEARN MORE ABOUT THE DOZENS OF PEOPLE QUARANTINED IN NEBRASKA, AND THE LATEST FROM THE UNICAMERAL THAT’S ALL TONIGHT ON “SPEAKING OF NEBRASKA.” S S >> THANKS FOR JOINING US ON “SPEAKING OF NEBRASKA.” I’M NET NEWS DIRECTOR, DENNIS KELLOGG TONIGHT WE’LL MEET A MAN QUARANTINED AT CAMP ASHLAND WITH HIS FAMILY WHILE BEING MONITORED FOR SYMPTOMS OF THE CORONAVIRUS AND, NET’S FRED KNAPP WILL UPDATE US ON THE LATEST PROPERTY TAX RELIEF EFFORTS AT THE LEGISLATURE BUT FIRST, WE TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT TRANSPORTATION CHALLENGES AND OPTIONS IN RURAL PARTS OF NEBRASKA BECCA COSTELLO OF NET NEWS REPORTS ON NEBRASKANS ACROSS THE STATE WORKING TO EXPAND THOSE SERVICES >> LONG DRIVES ON RURAL ROADS ARE JUST PART OF THE JOB FOR DAVID MENSER ABOUT 2600 PEOPLE LIVE ON THE WINNEBAGO RESERVATION IN NORTHEAST NEBRASKA MENSER MANAGES WINNEBAGO TRIBAL TRANSIT, A BUS SYSTEM THAT TRAVELS TO EMPLOYERS LIKE WINNAVEGAS CASINO, DOWNTOWN SIOUX CITY, AND SOME COLLEGE CAMPUSES IN RURAL AREAS LIKE THIS, NARROW, WINDING ROADS CAN MAKE DRIVING DIFFICULT, NOT TO MENTION UP TO 75% OF NEBRASKANS IN THIS PART OF THE STATE DON’T HAVE REGULAR ACCESS TO A VEHICLE >> AROUND HERE, YOU LIVE IN A RURAL AREA, SOMETIMES IT’S HARD TO EVEN GET FROM OUT OF THE COUNTRY INTO TOWN, OR A SMALL TOWN TO MEET UP WITH TRANSPORTATION A LOT OF MY DRIVERS, THEY’VE — THEY DO THEIR BEST TO GIVE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO ANY OF OUR PASSENGERS IN THE RURAL COMMUNITY TO GET WHERE THEY NEED TO BE FROM POINT A TO POINT B >> THIS MODEL IS ACTUALLY PRETTY COMMON ACROSS THE STATE 82 OF NEBRASKA’S 93 COUNTIES HAVE SOME FORM OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, BUT EVEN GETTING TO A BUS STOP CAN BE A CHALLENGE SOME OF THESE OPERATIONS ARE MORE DIRECT — PICKING YOU UP AT THE DOOR AND DROPPING YOU OFF RIGHT AT YOUR DESTINATION >> WE CAN TRANSPORT PEOPLE BETWEEN LINCOLN AND OMAHA, BUT WHEN WE DROP THEM OFF IN OMAHA, LET’S SAY AT THE WEST ROADS MALL, HOW ARE THEY GOING TO GET TO THEIR FINAL DESTINATION? SO, WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE HAVE ACCESS TO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION OR PERHAPS IT’S — SOME OF THAT IS PROVIDED BY A TRANSPORTATION NETWORKING COMPANY LIKE UBER OR LYFT OR A TAXICAB >> ONE OF THOSE SOLUTIONS COMES FROM A NEBRASKA NATIVE WORKING TO SOLVE THIS NATIONWIDE PROBLEM >> I GREW UP IN A SMALL TOWN CALLED VIRGINIA, NEBRASKA THERE ARE 96 PEOPLE, IF YOU COUNT THE CATS AND DOGS — ON A DAIRY FARM AND, TRANSPORTATION FOR ME GROWING UP WAS I RODE THE SCHOOL BUS IT WAS ABOUT AN HOUR TO GET IN AND OUT OF TOWN AND I DIDN’T KNOW THERE WAS ANY TYPE OF PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION >> PHOENIX MOBILITY RISING WORKS IN RURAL AREAS IN FIVE STATES, INCLUDING A RECENTLY-LAUNCHED PROJECT IN WESTERN NEBRASKA “PANHANDLE TRAILS” IS RECRUITING VOLUNTEER DRIVERS TO TRANSPORT RIDERS TO BUS STOPS FOR THE EXISTING ROUTE, THAT COVERS 16,000 SQUARE MILES >> IF THEY’RE IN A PART OF THE COMMUNITY THAT THERE IS NO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, GETTING TO THE BUS STOP IS ALSO A CHALLENGE, AND SO WE’RE JUST REALLY EXCITED TO WORK WITH “PANHANDLE TRAILS” TO BRING THOSE FIRST AND LAST MILE OPPORTUNITIES TOGETHER >> MOST OF THE TRANSIT OPTIONS ARE SUBSIDIZED BY THE NEBRASKA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, WHICH SUPPORTS MORE THAN 60 RURAL TRANSIT PROVIDERS ACROSS THE STATE NDOT MANAGES STATE AND FEDERAL FUNDING AVAILABLE SPECIFICALLY FOR RURAL TRANSPORTATION THE MONEY CAN COVER 75% OF OPERATING COSTS AND 90% OF BUYING VEHICLES THE REST IS UP TO LOCAL AGENCIES TO FUND, WHICH CAN BE A MAJOR BARRIER BUT, IT’S A CHALLENGE WORTH FACING BECAUSE OF WHAT IT MEANS FOR NEBRASKANS LIKE DEB LASH, OF COLUMBUS, WHO USES A MOTORIZED WHEELCHAIR >> IT REALLY — IT’S A LIFELINE FOR THE SENIORS AND PEOPLE IN WHEELCHAIRS, AND MOTORIZED CHAIRS, WALKERS, BECAUSE IT MAKES THEM MORE INDEPENDENT AND, LIKE ME, I CAN’T INTO A REGULAR CAR AND I CAN’T AFFORD A VEHICLE THAT’S GOT A LIFT ON IT, SO THIS IS MY ONLY OPTION OF GETTING AROUND TOWN TO THE GROCERY STORE, WALMART — YOU KNOW, EVEN LUNCH WITH FRIENDS IT’S THE ONLY OPTION I HAVE >> ALTHOUGH TRANSIT OPTIONS IN THE STATE HAVE GROWN IN RECENT YEARS, THERE’S STILL A GENERAL LACK OF AWARENESS THAT RURAL PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION EVEN EXISTS AND THAT ANYONE CAN USE IT >> IN CEDAR COUNTY, SINCE 2015, THEY HAVE MORE THAN DOUBLED THEIR RIDERSHIP, AND THAT’S NOT BECAUSE THE POPULATION OF THE COUNTY HAS DOUBLED, BUT WE HAVE A TRUE TRANSIT CHAMPION IN CEDAR COUNTY, AND SHE HAS MARKETED THE SERVICE AND SHE HAS EXPANDED THE SERVICE AREA >> RECENT GROWTH IS NO ACCIDENT NDOT HAS PRIORITIZED MOBILITY OVER THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS AND IS PUSHING TO EXPAND OPTIONS EVEN MORE

IT’S ALL PART OF THE EFFORT TO GET NEBRASKANS ANYWHERE THEY WANT TO GO FOR “SPEAKING OF NEBRASKA,” I’M BECCA COSTELLO S S >> JOINING US NOW TO DIG A LITTLE DEEPER ARE BILL BIVIN OF THE CENTER FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS RESEARCH AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA AT OMAHA, WHO SERVES AS THE STATEWIDE MOBILITY MANAGER FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, AND GINA COTTON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF “4 LANES 4 NEBRASKA.” THANK YOU BOTH FOR BEING HERE YOU BOTH COME AT THIS ISSUE FROM DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES, SO I WANT TO ASK YOU RIGHT OF THE TOP, CONSIDERING YOUR PERSPECTIVE, GINA, YOU SAFETY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND BILL, MOBILITY — MOVING PEOPLE AROUND HOW ARE WE DOING IN NEBRASKA? DO WE HAVE A GOOD SYSTEM? IS THE STATE REALLY ON TOP OF THE TRANSPORTATION NEEDS? GINA, WE’LL START WITH YOU >> I THINK WE CAN ALWAYS — THERE’S ALWAYS ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT, RIGHT? I THINK WE DO A NICE JOB, BUT I THINK WE COULD DO BETTER I THINK WE COULD DO BETTER, ESPECIALLY IN THE RURAL COMMUNITIES I THINK THEIR VOICES MAY BE NOT AS HEARD AS MUCH AS PEOPLE IN THE URBAN COMMUNITIES THAT’S KIND OF WHERE I SERVE TO KIND OF HELP LET THE STATE KNOW THAT WE CAN’T FORGET ABOUT OUR RURAL COMMUNITIES WE’RE A BIG AG, OBVIOUSLY A BIG AG STATE A LOT OF SEMIS DRIVING ON THOSE ROADS PEOPLE DON’T REALIZE THE AMOUNT OF TRAFFIC ON THOSE ROADS AND SAFETY IS A BIG DEAL WE DO A GOOD JOB, BUT WE COULD DO BETTER >> AND, BILL? >> YEAH, I WOULD ECHO THAT WE DO A GOOD JOB HERE IN NEBRASKA, BUT WE HAVE WITH PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SOMETHING OF A PATCHWORK OF AGENCIES, ALL DOING SMALL PIECES, TRYING TO FILL ALL THE GAPS, WHEN WE NEED MORE OF MAYBE A COMPREHENSIVE SYSTEM TO UNITE ALL OF THOSE OR GET THEM COORDINATED A LITTLE BIT BETTER >> SO, THAT’S WHERE YOU COME IN, BECAUSE I THINK YOU DEAL WITH 60 INDEPENDENT RURAL TRANSIT PROVIDERS, AND PART OF YOUR JOB IS TO GET THEM TO WORK TOGETHER HOW DO YOU DO THAT? >> WELL, WE’VE TAKEN A NUMBER OF STEPS TO DO THAT ONE WAS TO REGIONALIZE THE STATE WE’VE MADE SIX REGIONS THROUGHOUT THE STATE, AND THEN, HAVING THOSE AGENCIES MEET TOGETHER, GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER — WE HAD SOME LOW-HANGING FRUIT, LIKE, JUST PREPARING A QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE FOR ALL THE PEOPLE IN AN AREA AND THEN GIVING THAT TO THEM SO THAT IF MAYBE THEIR AGENCY DOESN’T MAKE A TRIP TO A DESTINATION, THEY KNOW ANOTHER ONE DOES, AND THEY CAN PASS THAT INFORMATION ALONG TO THEIR CLIENTS >> AND, THAT COULD BE A SHORT-TERM SOLUTION, BUT YOU ALSO — YOU’RE LOOKING AT LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS LIKE TECHNOLOGY >> ABSOLUTELY WE’RE LOOKING AT TECHNOLOGY FOR ALL THE AGENCIES IN NEBRASKA, AND PART OF THAT TECHNOLOGY REQUIREMENT IS GOING TO BE THAT THE DATA BE ABLE TO BE SHARED BETWEEN AGENCIES AND WITH THE STATE OF NEBRASKA SO NO MATTER WHAT TECHNOLOGY PARTNER THEY MAY CHOOSE — THERE MAY BE, YOU KNOW, EIGHT DIFFERENT COMPANIES, FOR INSTANCE THEY WILL ALL HAVE THAT REQUIREMENT TO SHARE THAT DATA AND HAVE THAT OPEN SOURCE COMPONENT >> GINA, I THINK YOU DESCRIBED YOURSELF AS A “PROFESSIONAL SQUEAKY WHEEL.” >> A HUNDRED PERCENT >> SO, TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORK WITH “4 LANES 4 NEBRASKA.” >> ABSOLUTELY SO, I AM THEIR VOICE I REALLY — I DRIVE ON THOSE ROADS A LOT A LOT OF MY BOARD IS UP IN NORFOLK, NEBRASKA, SO I DRIVE ON 1 AND 275, AND I GET IT I SEE WHAT THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT AND, I’M HERE IN LINCOLN, SO I’M A LITTLE CLOSER TO WHERE THE ACTION IS, YOU MIGHT SAY, SO I SAY MY PROFESSIONAL TITLE “SQUEAKY WHEEL.” WE HAVE TO GET IT DONE I’VE LISTENED TO THEM TALK ABOUT WHEN KAY ORR WAS GOVERNOR, PROMISING “275 WILL BE DONE.” THAT WAS IN 1988, SO I NEED TO SQUEAK A LITTLE HARDER AND A LITTLE LOUDER TO GET THAT DONE AND WE’RE MAKING GREAT PROGRESS ONCE I GET 275 UNDER WAY, I’M GOING TO JUMP RIGHT OVER TO 81, SO THE “SQUEAKY WHEEL” WILL CONTINUE BECAUSE THOSE RURAL COMMUNITIES REALLY DO NEED THAT TRANSPORTATION SAFETY’S KEY, BUT THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IS ALSO KEY OVER THERE >> AND, LET’S TALK ABOUT SAFETY >> OKAY >> SO, ON THESE TWO-LANE HIGHWAYS, WHAT ARE THE MAJOR SAFETY CONCERNS? >> OH, MY GOSH SO, I JUST HAD A BOARD MEMBER SHARE WITH ME TRYING TO TURN LEFT YOU HAVE ALL OF THIS ONCOMING TRAFFIC, AND THERE’S SEMIS, AND TRUCKS, AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS, AND YOU WANT TO TURN LEFT THAT’S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE SO HE JUST SHARED WITH ME RECENTLY HE WAS SITTING THERE, THE TRAFFIC CAME TO A STILL — IT WAS STOPPED A SEMI IS COMING UP FROM BEHIND HIM AND HE’S THINKING, “HM, DO I GO LEFT INTO ONCOMING TRAFFIC? OR DO I GET OFF ON THE SHOULDER, WHICH IS FALLING APART, TO AVOID THE SEMI?” AND, HE SAID HE DID GO OFF TO THE RIGHT AND SURE ENOUGH, JUST AS THAT SEMI WAS SCREECHING HIS BRAKES, THE TRAFFIC CLEARED AND THE SEMI WAS ABLE TO GO THROUGH AND HE SAYS, “YOU KNOW, HE’S AN EXPERIENCED DRIVER WHAT ABOUT A 16-YEAR-OLD?” THAT’S WHERE IT GETS VERY SCARY THEY MIGHT NOT HAVE THAT WHERE-WITH-ALL TO BE ABLE TO SAY, “HM, WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS HERE?”

SO, SAFETY’S A BIG ISSUE — VERY BIG ISSUE >> AND, YOU TALKED ABOUT A FEW DIFFERENT HIGHWAYS THE STATE’S BEEN WORKING TO EXPAND THE STATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM SINCE 1988 THERE’S ABOUT 160 MILES THAT ARE LEFT THAT AREN’T FINISHED YET >> YEP >> SO, WHAT IS ON THE HORIZON FOR THOSE LAST FEW SECTIONS? >> SO, WE’RE MAKING PROGRESS SO WE JUST FINISHED — THE U.S ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS CAME IN TO DO A LITTLE — WE HAVE SOME WETLANDS ON 275 THEY JUST COMPLETED THEIR STUDY WE’RE NOT SEEING ANY MAJOR RED FLAGS OBVIOUSLY, IT’S A WETLAND AREA IT’S RECENTLY HAS BEEN CLOSED BECAUSE OF SOME OF THE ICE AND THE FLOODING, WHICH IS A HUGE PROBLEM, BUT WE DO THINK WE’RE GOING TO TURN DIRT IN 2021, IN THE SPRING, SO WE’RE GAINING GREAT PROGRESS THERE I’M VERY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THAT >> TALKING ABOUT PROJECTS, BILL, LET’S TALK ABOUT INNER-CITY BUS ROUTES NOW, THEY’RE LOOKING AT ONE BETWEEN GRAND ISLAND, KEARNEY, AND HASTINGS, AND ALSO THERE’S BEEN TALK ABOUT ONE BETWEEN LINCOLN AND OMAHA WHAT’S REALLY THE PURPOSE OF THESE PROPOSED PROJECTS AND WHAT KIND OF PROCESS — PROGRESS ARE WE SEEING ON THEM? >> YEAH, I THINK THE PURPOSE OF THESE PROJECTS IS REALLY, YOU KNOW, I THINK INNER-CITY BUS TRAVEL MAYBE PEAKED IN THE ’80S, OR SOMETHING, WITH GREYHOUND, AND THEN WE SAW IT DROP OFF IN THE ’90S, AND THEN A NUMBER OF SMALLER PROVIDERS HAVE TRIED TO KIND OF FILL THAT VACUUM, BUT WE’VE NEVER, YOU KNOW, RE-ESCALATED UP TO THAT LEVEL THAT WE WERE ONCE AT, SO WE’VE DEFINITELY GOT A NEED WHEN WE DO LOOK AT STUDIES, WHEN WE LOOK AT THE DEMOGRAPHICS, WHEN WE LOOK AT CENSUS DATA, AND COMMUNITY SERVICE SURVEY DATA, WE SEE THAT THERE ARE COMMUTING PATTERNS WE SEE THAT PEOPLE ARE GOING FOR DOCTORS’ OFFICE VISITS, THERE ARE STUDENTS GOING TO CAMPUSES BETWEEN, YOU KNOW, KEARNEY, GRAND ISLAND, AND HASTINGS SO, WE KNOW THERE’S A LOT OF TRAVEL BETWEEN THOSE CITIES AND WE KNOW, OF COURSE, THERE’S TRANSIT-DEPENDENT POPULATION — PEOPLE WHO DON’T HAVE A CAR, PEOPLE WHO CAN’T DRIVE MAYBE DUE TO AGE, OR AN ILLNESS AND THEN YOU HAVE PEOPLE WHO WOULD CHOOSE TO RIDE A BUS IF THAT WERE AVAILABLE SO REALLY, THAT INNER-CITY PIECE IS JUST PART OF MOBILITY OPTIONS THAT, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE WANT, I THINK, AND NEED, AND WE’RE REALLY TRYING TO GET NEBRASKA TO LOOK AT MOBILITY IN A LARGER CONTEXT YOU KNOW, IT’S CONNECTING INNER CITY, IT’S CONNECTING, YOU KNOW, URBAN AREAS, RURAL AREAS — IT’S THE UBERS, THE LYFTS, IT’S DEMAND RESPONSE — IT’S ALL OF THESE, YOU KNOW, TOGETHER >> BILL BIVIN, STATEWIDE MOBILITY MANAGER, AND WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THESE ROUTES, AS I UNDERSTAND IT, THERE’S MORE FEDERAL FUNDING AVAILABLE THAT WE COULD BE USING THAT WE’RE NOT IT SEEMS LIKE A WIN-WIN SITUATION, SO WHY AREN’T WE SPENDING MORE MONEY ON THESE PROJECTS? >> YEAH, WE CURRENTLY, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE A PORTION OF MONEY SET ASIDE FOR INNER-CITY BUS THAT WE’RE NOT ABLE TO USE ALL OF THAT SO, YOU KNOW, IT COMES DOWN TO THE STATE AND LOCAL POPULATIONS COMING UP WITH A PLAN TO, YOU KNOW, LEVERAGE THAT MONEY THAT’S THE, YOU KNOW, NICE THING ABOUT IT IS THAT IT REALLY ISN’T UP TO ANYONE EXCEPT THOSE LOCAL COMMUNITIES TO DECIDE HOW THEY WANT TO USE THAT MONEY AND HOW THEY WANT TO DESIGN THEIR SERVICE SO, I AND MY TEAM, WE’RE JUST THERE TO HELP THEM, GUIDE THEM THROUGH THAT PROCESS, AND IF THAT’S THE — YOU KNOW, HELP THEM DESIGN IT THE WAY THAT WILL BEST FIT THEIR NEEDS >> GINA COTTON, EXECUTIVE OF “4 LANES 4 NEBRASKA,” I WANT TO BUILD ON THAT A LITTLE BIT AND TALK WITH YOU ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF MAKING THOSE DECISIONS AT THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT LEVEL VERSUS THE FEDERAL LEVEL HOW IMPORTANT IS THAT? >> IT’S HUGELY IMPORTANT, ALTHOUGH I’M ALL FOR A MAJOR INFRASTRUCTURE BILL TO GO THROUGH — I’M HOPEFUL OF THAT BUT I THINK THAT’S SOMETHING WE CAN ALL AGREE ON, BUT I THINK LOCALLY WE UNDERSTAND WHAT THE NEEDS ARE, THEY UNDERSTAND THE TRAFFIC PATTERNS, AND SOME THINGS THAT ARE DICTATED NATIONWIDE DON’T NECESSARILY FALL WITHIN A LOCAL COMMUNITY, SO SOMETIMES THERE ARE SUCH REGULATIONS ON HOW YOU BUILD ON A FEDERAL SYSTEM AND MAYBE THAT DOESN’T APPLY ON A LOCAL SYSTEM, AND MAYBE IT’S MORE EXPENSIVE TO DO IT THAT WAY, AND IT’S LESS EXPENSIVE IF WE HAVE MORE LOCAL CONTROL SO THERE’S A LOT ABOUT HAVING IT LOCALLY THAT’S HUGELY IMPORTANT >> AND, YOUR ORGANIZATION COMMISSIONED A STUDY TO DETERMINE THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF CONVERTING HIGHWAY 275 AND 81 IN NORTHEAST NEBRASKA, AND THOSE STUDIES ESTIMATED A COMBINED IMPACT OF MORE THAN $4.5 BILLION OVER 15 YEARS TALK ABOUT THAT STUDY AND TALK ABOUT HOW YOU REACHED THOSE NUMBERS >> IT’S HUGE WELL, I DIDN’T REACH THOSE NUMBERS (CHUCKLING) THE PROFESSIONALS DID >> RIGHT >> BUT, IT’S HUGE THERE IS SUCH INDUSTRY UP IN THE NORFOLK AREA YOU HAVE NEW CORE STEEL, YOU HAVE NORFOLK IRON AND METAL, EBM CONSTRUCTION — THERE’S A LOT OF INDUSTRY THAT TRAVELS

THOSE ROADS, AND THAT’S JUST THE INDUSTRY BUT THEN, YOU HAVE ALL THE AGRICULTURAL, YOU HAVE THE FARMS UP THERE, YOU HAVE CATTLE RANCHES, AND SO ALL THE FEED TRUCKS THAT COME THROUGH — I MEAN IF YOU JUST TRAVEL THAT ROAD ON ONE DAY, YOU’LL BE SURPRISED AT ALL THAT YOU SEE CATTLE TRUCKS, PIG TRUCKS, FEED TRUCKS, STEEL TRUCKS — IT’S JUST AMAZING A LOT OF COMMERCE GOING UP AND DOWN THAT HIGHWAY >> BILL BIVIN, YOU TOUCHED ON THIS A LITTLE BIT EARLIER, BUT I WANT TO GO BACK TO IT THE IMPACT OF DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGES ON THE STATE I THINK THIS IS PRETTY INTERESTING BECAUSE YOU HAVE AN AGING POPULATION, SO YOU MAY HAVE FEWER DRIVERS THERE BUT, YOU ALSO HAVE SOME YOUNGER DRIVERS, OR YOUNGER PEOPLE WHO MAYBE ARE CHOOSING NOT TO DRIVE ALL OF THEM ARE DEPENDING MORE ON PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION >> YEAH, WE’RE SEEING THAT MORE AND MORE WITH YOUNGER PEOPLE WHO, YOU KNOW, MAYBE WAIT LONGER AND LONGER TO GET A DRIVER’S LICENSE, YOU KNOW, FOR ANY NUMBER OF REASONS MAYBE IT’S SAFETY, MAYBE IT’S — YOU KNOW, THEY HAVE OTHER TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS, AND DON’T FEEL THE NEED TO GET ONE BUT, YEAH, YOU MENTIONED THAT THAT AGING POPULATION WE ARE IN THE MIDST OF THAT DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE RIGHT NOW, SO WE’RE GOING TO SEE MORE AND MORE HOUSEHOLDS WITHOUT CARS, PEOPLE WHO CAN’T DRIVE, OR, YOU KNOW, CHOOSE NOT TO DRIVE, IN THAT AGING POPULATION, SO THOSE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO NEED WAYS TO GET OUT AND ABOUT IN THE COMMUNITY AND SPEND THEIR MONEY AND, THE LONGER WE CAN KEEP THOSE PEOPLE AGING IN PLACE, AGING IN THEIR OWN HOMES, THE MORE THEY’LL BE ABLE TO, YOU KNOW, CONTRIBUTE TO LOCAL ECONOMIES, PAY TAXES, SHOP IN THE LOCAL STORES, AND THAT KIND OF THING JUST ANOTHER THING I WANTED TO SAY ABOUT ECONOMIC IMPACTS WAS, WITH TRANSIT DOLLARS ALSO, EVERY DOLLAR WE SPEND ON PUBLIC TRANSIT, IT’S HARD TO MEASURE, YOU KNOW, THE RIPPLE EFFECT EXACTLY, BUT THAT DOES COME BACK TO THE LOCAL ECONOMY TWOFOLD, FOURFOLD, ETC >> GINA, THERE ARE DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT NEEDS FOR RURAL AND URBAN AREAS WHEN IT COMES TO ROADS DO YOU THINK NEBRASKA IS DOING A DECENT JOB OF ADDRESSING BOTH THE RURAL NEEDS AND THE URBAN NEEDS? >> WELL, I’M THE “SQUEAKY WHEEL” FOR THOSE RURAL NEEDS, AND IT’S A CHALLENGE FOR THEM, AND I UNDERSTAND THE CHALLENGE YOU HAVE A HIGH DENSITY POPULATION THAT THERE’S A LOT OF VOICES “WE HAVE POTHOLES, AND WE HAVE THIS THAT NEEDS TO GET FIXED.” BUT, I GO FOR THAT SAFETY ISSUE AND I PULL THAT FATALITY REPORT EVERY MORNING AND I SEE THAT RIGHT NOW WE HAVE 18 DEATHS ACROSS THE STATE OF NEBRASKA, FOUR ARE URBAN, AND 14 ARE RURAL SO, I TEND TO THINK THAT’S A LITTLE MORE IMPORTANT, COMING OBVIOUSLY FROM A SAFETY STANDPOINT IT’S A BALANCING GAME IT’S A BALANCING ACT AND, AS I SAID IN THE BEGINNING, I THINK WE CAN DO BETTER, OBVIOUSLY, AND I’M A PROPONENT TO GET THOSE RURAL HIGHWAYS DONE — OBVIOUSLY, I WANT THE URBAN TO GET DONE, AS WELL, BUT I’M LIKE JUST TRYING TO GET IT TO GO A LITTLE BIT QUICKER >> BILL, WHEN YOU LOOK AT OTHER STATES THAT ARE OUT THERE AS POTENTIAL MODELS FOR WHAT NEBRASKA COULD BE DOING, I THINK BEFORE YOU’VE POINTED AT COLORADO AS — AS SOMEONE THAT MAYBE WE CAN LOOK AT — SOME PLACE THAT WE CAN LOOK AT >> YEAH, COLORADO IS DEFINITELY A — YOU KNOW, A STATE THAT’S DOING A LOT WITH INNER CITY BUS THEY’VE DONE A GOOD JOB OF INITIALLY JUST CONNECTING, LIKE, FORT COLLINS AND DENVER AREA, AND THEN ONCE THE REST OF THE STATE SAW HOW SUCCESSFUL THAT WAS, THEY WERE LIKE, “WE WOULD LIKE THAT, TOO.” AND SO, IT HAS REALLY SPREAD STATEWIDE, AND WE THINK WE CAN DO THE SAME THING IN NEBRASKA ONCE WE GET SOME INNER CITY BUS GOING WE THINK THAT MORE AREAS WILL WANT IT AND WE THINK IT’LL BE EASIER TO EXPAND ACROSS THE STATE >> SO, AS WE WIND DOWN HERE, I JUST WANT TO ASK YOU BOTH, WHAT’S THE ONE THING THAT YOU THINK NEBRASKA CAN DO TO MAKE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE, GINA, FROM YOUR STANDPOINT FROM THE SAFETY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PERSPECTIVE? >> EXPAND ALL THOSE HIGHWAYS I MEAN, FOUR LANES WHEN IT’S FEASIBLE TO DO IT IT’S JUST HUGE YOU’LL HAVE PEOPLE COMING INTO OUR STATE RATHER THAN BYPASSING OUR STATE, AND YOU THINK 81 IS A PAN-AMERICAN HIGHWAY FROM CANADA TO SOUTH AMERICA? LOOK AT THE TRAFFIC THAT CAN COME THROUGH OUR STATE THAT WOULD BE FANTASTIC I THINK PEOPLE WOULD COME THROUGH US RATHER THAN TO GO AROUND US >> BILL, WHERE DO YOU PUT YOUR VOTE? >> I’M GOING TO PUT MY VOTE IN INVESTING IN PUBLIC TRANSIT THOSE INNER-CITY BUS PROJECTS, I MEAN, BETWEEN LINCOLN AND OMAHA, THAT SEEMS LIKE A REAL NO-BRAINER WE’VE GOT A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT THAT COULD SERVE AND THEN, IN THAT TRI-CITY AREA, A LOT OF TRAFFIC BETWEEN THOSE THREE CITIES, AS WELL I THINK IT WOULD SERVE A LOT OF OUR POPULATION >> INTERESTING TOPIC BILL BIVIN, STATEWIDE MOBILITY MANAGER, AND GINA COTTON, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF “4 LANES 4 NEBRASKA.” THANK YOU BOTH FOR BEING HERE WITH US >> THANKS FOR HAVING US >> THANK YOU >> THIS INTERVIEW AND TONIGHT’S PROGRAM ARE AVAILABLE ON OUR WEBSITE JUST GO TO NETNEBRASKA.ORG/ SPEAKINGOFNEBRASKA,

AND JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON SOCIAL MEDIA FIND US ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER, @NETNEWSNEBRASKA S S >> NEBRASKA’S CAMP ASHLAND IS SERVING AS A TEMPORARY HOME FOR DOZENS OF AMERICANS UNDER QUARANTINE BECAUSE OF POTENTIAL EXPOSURE TO THE CORONAVIRUS ALLISON MOLLENKAMP IS HERE TO TELL US MORE ALLISON, THANKS FOR JOINING US SO, WHY NEBRASKA? >> WELL, THERE WERE FOUR LOCATIONS CHOSEN ACROSS THE COUNTRY, TWO IN CALIFORNIA, AND ONE IN TEXAS, AND THEN ONE HERE AT CAMP ASHLAND IN NEBRASKA AND, A LOT OF THIS IS THE STRENGTH OF THE STAFF AND FACILITIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA MEDICAL CENTER THEY’VE REALLY MADE A POINT OF FOCUSING ON INFECTIOUS DISEASE, AND ON TRAINING FOR THESE TYPES OF EVENTS THEY DO HAVE THE BIOCONTAINMENT UNIT, THAT WAS USED DURING THE EBOLA VIRUS OUTBREAK, AND THAT COULD BE USED AGAIN IN THIS SITUATION, IF NECESSARY AND, THE PROXIMITY TO CAMP ASHLAND, WHERE THESE FACILITIES ARE FOR QUARANTINE HAS WORKED OUT QUITE WELL >> THE TEAM REALLY MADE ITS MARK WITH — WITH EBOLA SO, TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE PEOPLE THAT ARE IN QUARANTINE RIGHT NOW >> THERE ARE ABOUT 70 AMERICANS AND THEIR FAMILIES THAT ARE IN THIS GROUP THEY RANGE IN AGE FROM SMALL CHILDREN TO ADULTS OVER 70 THEY CAME FROM WUHAN, CHINA, EVEN IF THAT’S NOT WHERE THEY WERE LIVING — THAT’S WHERE THE PLANE TOOK OFF FROM I SPOKE WITH ONE YOUNG MAN, TYLER SHEPHERD, WHO IS IN QUARANTINE WITH HIS WIFE AND YOUNG SON THEY LIVE IN SHENZHEN, BUT WERE TRAVELING FOR THE LUNAR NEW YEAR TO SEE HIS FATHER-IN-LAW IN SUIZHOU, AND IN THE PROCESS SPENT 14 DAYS IN LOCKDOWN THERE IN SUIZHOU BEFORE THEY WERE ABLE TO WORK WITH THE U.S EMBASSY TO LEAVE CHINA, AND HE IS IN QUARANTINE NOW AT CAMP ASHLAND WITH HIS FAMILY >> THEY’VE BEEN TREATING US WELL THEY GET US EVERYTHING THAT WE NEED, OUR FOOD, AND — SO, IT FEELS MORE LIKE A PROLONGED VACATION THAN MORE LIKE A QUARANTINE, BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH WE PRETTY MUCH STAY TO OURSELF UNLESS WE’RE GETTING OUR TEMPERATURE CHECKED AND IT’S PRETTY OKAY I WOULDN’T COMPLAIN ABOUT IT >> AND THESE FACILITIES WHERE THEY ARE STAYING DO LOOK PRETTY SIMILAR TO A COLLEGE DORM, OR TO A MODEST HOTEL ROOM THIS FAMILY WAS ABLE TO HAVE — TO BE GIVEN A PLAYPEN AND A SMALL BATH FOR THEIR SON, WHO JUST TURNED ONE THIS WEEK AND, THEY HAVE THEIR TEMPERATURES CHECKED EVERY DAY THEY ARE MONITORED VERY STRICTLY FOR SYMPTOMS OF THE CORONAVIRUS BUT, WHILE THEY’RE THERE, THERE’S AN EXERCISE FACILITY, THERE’S A PLAY AREA FOR CHILDREN, AND SO THEY’RE BEING WELL TAKEN CARE OF WHILE THEY SPEND THIS TIME IN NEBRASKA >> AND, TYLER’S SON ACTUALLY GOT TO HAVE A BIRTHDAY PARTY THERE THIS WEEK >> YES, THEY TRIED TO MAKE IT A SPECIAL BIRTHDAY, EVEN THOUGH IT IS SORT OF AN ODD PLACE TO SPEND A FIRST BIRTHDAY >> WELL, FIRST BIRTHDAYS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE MEMORABLE, AND HIS FAMILY WILL CERTAIN REMEMBER THAT ONE SO ANOTHER THING WE REALLY HAVE TO STRESS IS THERE’S NO THREAT TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC AT ALL >> ABSOLUTELY NOT THESE TEAMS ARE BEING SO CAREFUL IT’S TEAMS FROM BOTH FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND FROM UNMC THEY’RE USING PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT LIKE SURGICAL MASKS AND, ON THE PLANE, HE SAID EVEN THE CREW HAD HAZMAT SUITS TO PROTECT THEMSELVES AND, THE GENERAL PUBLIC SHOULD CERTAINLY NOT WORRY YOU HAVE TO BE WITHIN SIX FEET OF SOMEONE TO CATCH CORONAVIRUS IT SPREADS MUCH LIKE THE COLD, THROUGH A COUGH OR SNEEZE, AND NONE OF THESE PEOPLE ARE CURRENTLY SHOWING SYMPTOMS OF THE CORONAVIRUS >> IT’S A STORY WE’LL CONTINUE TO FOLLOW ALLISON MOLLENKAMP, THANK YOU VERY MUCH >> THANK YOU >> YOU CAN WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH TYLER SHEPHERD ON OUR WEBSITE, PLUS MORE IN-DEPTH COVERAGE IN OUR DAILY SIGNATURE STORIES AND LEARN ABOUT EFFORTS TO EDUCATE NEBRASKANS ON THE POSSIBILITY OF MORE FLOODING, HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS LEARNING HOW TO DETECT UNSAFE DRINKING WATER IN A CITIZENS’ SCIENCE PROJECT, AND A NEW 3D MAP OF ROBBERS CAVE, IN LINCOLN ALL OF THOSE STORIES, AND MORE ONLINE AT NETNEBRASKA.ORG/NEWS S S >> STATE LAWMAKERS ARE ABOUT A THIRD OF THE WAY THROUGH THIS YEAR’S LEGISLATIVE SESSION FRED KNAPP, OF NET NEWS, JOINS US TO DISCUSS A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT THEY’VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT RECENTLY, AND THE YOUTH REHABILITATION AND TREATMENT CENTER IN KEARNEY HAS HAD SOME PROBLEMS, AND THAT’S COME UP ON THE LEGISLATIVE FLOOR >> RIGHT THE YRTC IS AN OPTION WHERE JUVENILE COURTS CAN SEND PEOPLE BETWEEN THE AGES OF 14 AND 19 IF THEY’VE COMMITTED OFFENSES THAT IF THEY WERE ADULTS WOULD BE MISDEMEANORS OR FELONIES, THINGS LIKE BURGLARY AND ASSAULT BUT, THERE WAS A — AND THE EMPHASIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE ON REHABILITATION, NOT PUNISHMENT, BUT SARA HOWARD, THE SENATOR WHO’S CHAIR OF THE HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE, DESCRIBED AN INCIDENT THIS PAST WEEK WHERE SOME OF THE BOYS THERE DISASSEMBLED BEDS, METAL BEDS, AND ASSAULTED STAFF MEMBERS WITH THE PIECES AND SENT THREE OR FOUR OF THEM TO THE HOSPITAL LET’S — THIS IS PART OF WHAT SHE SAID >> I AM CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT’S GOING ON AT KEARNEY I AM CONCERNED ABOUT THE SAFETY OF THE KIDS THERE, THE GIRLS THERE, AND I’M CONCERNED ABOUT THE STAFF I’M GETTING CALLS, AND EMAILS, AND TEXTS, AND PICTURES OF BLOODSTAINS THAT ARE STILL ON THE FLOOR FROM THE ASSAULT

THAT HAPPENED ON FRIDAY WE CANNOT IGNORE WHAT’S HAPPENING THERE IT IS SCARY AND IT IS AN EMERGENCY >> I THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO POINT OUT THAT SENATOR HOWARD MENTIONED THAT — MENTIONED GIRLS AT THE YRTC IN KEARNEY THAT’S SOMETHING THAT’S NEW >> RIGHT THEY HAD BEEN AT A SEPARATE YRTC FOR GIRLS IN GENEVA, NEBRASKA, BUT THAT PLACE WAS EMPTIED OUT IN AUGUST BECAUSE THE BUILDINGS WERE FALLING APART THERE WAS MOLD THE GIRLS WEREN’T GETTING ANY PROGRAMMING, AND SO THEY WERE MOVED TO KEARNEY, BUT WITH BOTH SEXES THERE, THERE’S A LOT OF POTENTIAL FOR TROUBLE THE HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT SAYS THEY’RE RESPONDING TO THESE INCIDENTS AND ESCAPES BY INCREASING STAFF AND HAVING SUPERVISORS ON CALL, OR ON SITE, 24 HOURS A DAY AND THEN, THERE ARE A LOT OF LONG-TERM PLANS ABOUT RE-DEFINING THE MISSIONS OF THE YRTCS AND SETTING NEW PLANS AND GOALS, BUT THOSE REMAIN TO BE EFFECTUATED >> WE’LL CONTINUE TO FOLLOW THAT GOING INTO THIS SECTION, A LOT OF FOCUS ON PROPERTY TAXES AND SCHOOL FINANCE ARE WE GETTING ANYTHING DONE ON THOSE ISSUES? >> THE REVENUE COMMITTEE HAS JUST ADVANCED A BILL THAT WOULD INCREASE STATE AID TO SCHOOLS BY ABOUT $500 MILLION OVER THE NEXT THREE YEARS IN AN ATTEMPT TO DRIVE DOWN PROPERTY TAXES IT WOULD DO THAT BY LOWERING THE VALUATIONS OF AG AND OTHER TYPES OF PROPERTY SCHOOLS DON’T LIKE IT, THOUGH, BECAUSE IT LIMITS THEIR ABILITY TO SPEND ADDITIONAL MONEY TO THE RATE OF INFLATION PLUS REAL PROPERTY TAX GROWTH IN THE DISTRICT AND, IT DIDN’T ADVANCE UNANIMOUSLY IT WAS 6-2 UNDOUBTEDLY, THERE’LL BE FIGHTS ON THE FLOOR, AND IT MAY GET TIED UP WITH OTHER BILLS AS IT DID LAST YEAR WITH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TAX INCENTIVES, FOR EXAMPLE >> AND NEBRASKA’S LONGEST-SERVING STATE SENATOR, ERNIE CHAMBERS, IS BEING TERM-LIMITED OUT AFTER THIS SESSION I’M GUESSING HE’S NOT THE TYPE WHO’S JUST KIND OF CRUISE OUT IS HE MAKING AN IMPACT THIS SESSION? >> HE IS HE’S GOT A, WHAT HE CALLS A “PEEWEE BILL,” THAT WOULD REQUIRE TRAINING FOR POLICE OFFICERS IN ANTI-BIAS AND IMPLICIT BIAS RECOGNITION HE SAID HE COULD HAVE TRIED ONCE AGAIN TO ABOLISH THE DEATH PENALTY, WHICH IS HIS SIGNATURE ISSUE, BUT IT WASN’T GOING ANYWHERE, SO HE TRIED TO GET DONE WHAT HE WILL — WHAT HE CAN GET DONE I THINK THAT HE WILL BE PLAYING DEFENSE ON A LOT OF OTHER ISSUES THAT HE DOESN’T LIKE — TRYING TO PREVENT STUFF HE DOESN’T LIKE FROM PASSING, SO I DON’T THINK WE’VE HEARD THE LAST FROM HIM THIS SESSION >> HE’S GOOD AT OFFENSE AND DEFENSE, ISN’T HE? >> YEAH >> YEAH FRED KNAPP, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR REPORTING AND, FRED KEEPS US INFORMED ON WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE LEGISLATURE EVERY DAY YOU CAN LISTEN FOR HIS UPDATES ON NET RADIO AT 5:45 AND 7:45 WEEKDAY MORNINGS, AND 5:45 IN THE EVENING AND, YOU CAN READ HIS STORIES EACH DAY ON OUR WEBSITE, AT NETNEBRASKA.ORG/NEWS S S >> THAT’S ALL FOR THIS WEEK ON “SPEAKING OF NEBRASKA.” THANKS TO BILL BEVIN AND GINA COTTON FOR JOINING US, AND ALLISON MOLLENKAMP AND FRED KNAPP FOR THEIR REPORTING, AND ALL THOSE BEHIND THE SCENES THAT WORK TO BRING THIS SHOW TO YOU NEXT WEEK, WE TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE AND THE SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM IMPACTS ON NEBRASKA UNTIL THEN, I’M NET NEWS DIRECTOR, DENNIS KELLOGG THANKS FOR WATCHING S S CAPTIONING PROVIDED BY CAPTION SOLUTIONS, LLC WWW.CAPTIONSOLUTIONS.COM