Infrastructure Investments Pay Dividends for Nebraska


By U.S. Senator Deb Fischer

In his 1954 State of the Union address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his intention to “protect the vital interest of every citizen in a safe and adequate highway system.” Eisenhower claimed that the U.S. government must play central role in this task, advocating federal funding for an Interstate Highway System.

Establishing this system was no simple feat. The Senate rejected President Eisenhower’s initial proposal, which relied on state and local governments to contribute most of the Interstate’s cost. Lawmakers believed that more federal funding should address the safety risks of the 1950s roads system. The House of Representatives also rejected the initial proposal, instead creating a fund that drew on the gas tax to support construction of the highway system. Two years later, the Senate and House reconciled their versions of the Federal-Aid Highway Act, and President Eisenhower signed the final version into law. That law joined disparate roads into the connected Interstate we drive on today.

Several decades later, Congress still recognizes the federal government’s irreplaceable role in maintaining and modernizing our country’s infrastructure. And while the media may focus on divisive and controversial issues, many of us in the Senate and House still work together to accomplish good on behalf of the American people. One of the best examples is infrastructure.

In 2021, I joined many of my colleagues from both parties in supporting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. This legislation invests in our national infrastructure to ensure safety, connect communities, and grow local economies on a national scale. It funds core infrastructure from airports to broadband to roads and bridges. As we crafted the bill, my colleagues and I negotiated funding to be directed to Nebraska specifically. To date, Nebraska has received $2.4 billion for various infrastructure products, including $1.4 billion for roads and bridges and $174 million for clean water.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill has also provided grants to airports across our state, in Omaha, North Platte, Grand Island, Kearney, Kimball, and Western Nebraska. This week, I spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony of Eppley Airfield’s “Build OMA” Terminal Modernization Program, a project funded in part by those federal grants. The Build OMA program will meet the demands of increasing traffic at Nebraska’s premiere airport. It will nearly double the terminal in size and build several first-rate amenities: an updated entrance, centralized security, expanded gates, and larger waiting areas. I also secured funding for a new Customs and Border Protection facility that will allow families and products to travel internationally, directly from Omaha. This comprehensive overhaul will ensure Eppley remains a modern, world-class airport that Nebraskans can be proud of for years to come.

The groundbreaking followed the announcement of a new $3 million federal grant to support terminal improvements at Eppley, as well as a $7 million grant for the North Platte Airport Authority to construct a replacement terminal building, among other projects. Three years on, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is still paying dividends to Nebraska for transportation and infrastructure updates like the Build OMA project. To date, that legislation has granted more than $50 million to upgrade and modernize Eppley.

The Build OMA program at Eppley is a perfect example of the sweeping improvements infrastructure legislation can fund. As long as Congress can continue to do the hard but quiet work of true legislating, our state will only see more projects like these in the future. I’ll keep doing my part in the Senate to support improvements that serve Nebraska families and make our Good Life even better.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.