Recognizing that safe and efficient transportation over public roads is a matter of major importance to all of the people in the state, the Legislature hereby determines and declares that an integrated system of public roads is essential to the general welfare of the State of Nebraska.
Adequate public roads provide for the free flow of traffic, protect the health and safety of the citizens of the state, result in lower cost of motor vehicle operation, increase property values, and generally promote the economic and social progress of the state.
Providing such a system of facilities and the efficient management, operation, and control thereof are recognized as urgent problems and proper objectives of legislation pertaining to all public roads.
As a result of the comprehensive three-year study of all public roads in Nebraska conducted by a committee of the Legislative Council as authorized by the Legislature in 1965 and 1967, a study through which determination has been made of the engineering, financial, and management needs of all public roads, a program has been developed to provide an integrated system of public roads for the state, its counties, and its municipalities.
Recognizing that cooperation among these governmental entities is essential in bringing to fruition the development of a truly integrated system of public roads, it is the intent of the Legislature to provide by law the structure upon which the state, its counties, and its municipalities can work as equal partners in the development, operation, and management of such a system.
Fundamental to the development of an integrated system of public roads is a determination of the function each road segment serves. Through adoption by law of a functional classification system, it is the intent of the Legislature that each segment of public road shall be identified according to the function it serves. Identification of roads according to function then will permit the establishment of uniform standards of design, construction, operation, and maintenance for each classification of road. Such standards will promote the general safety of the traveling public, enhance the free flow of traffic, and provide improved utilization of highway financing.
Responsibility for the various functional classifications of public roads shall be assigned by law to the state, the counties, and the municipalities, as appropriate, such assignments reflecting the general responsibilities of each entity.
Through establishment of a Board of Public Roads Classifications and Standards composed of representation from the state, counties, municipalities, and general public, it is the intent of the Legislature to give each governmental entity and the public an equal voice in developing reasonable standards for each classification of road which shall be adequate to meet the needs of an increasingly mobile society.
Both long-range planning and annual programming are essential to the orderly development of an integrated system of public roads. It is the intent of the Legislature to provide by law a structure which will enable each governmental entity to program its individual needs on a priority basis, yet to establish an intergovernmental relationship which will permit their working in cooperation with each other to attain the desired objective of an integrated system. The structure will have the flexibility necessary to recognize that annual programs cannot always be met as planned because of unforeseen problems which may arise.
To assure realization of the maximum benefits possible from the substantial investment Nebraska citizens make toward their public roads, it is the intent of the Legislature to provide by law a system of planning, programming, budgeting, reporting, and accounting for each governmental entity which will bring improved management methods. Such management will provide citizens the opportunity to know how each governmental entity intends to spend its highway money, and to determine its performance when measured against its plans.
Nebraska's public roads system is one of the largest in the nation; yet its population is relatively small and ranges from high concentrations of people in urban centers to vast rural areas in which the population is sparsely located. The citizens in these diverse areas have the same need, however, for a transportation system which will meet their respective needs. It is not economically feasible to develop all public roads throughout the state to the same high standards, and thus it becomes incumbent upon the Legislature to devise a program under which the roads most important to these diverse areas are developed to modern standards. Adoption of a functional classification system and implementation of modern management methods will combine to bring such a program into being and result in improved utilization of highway financing.
Recognizing that highway financing heretofore has been inadequate to meet the needs of a modern transportation system, and that the distribution of revenue has resulted in disparities of treatment, it is the intent of the Legislature to provide reasonable financing and more equitable distribution of revenue. The objectives of this total program are to bring the state highway system up to adequate standards in a twenty-year period, and to bring the road systems of its counties, and the street systems of its municipalities, up to adequate standards over a twenty-year period.