Bill would raise contract limit for bridge and road improvements

The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee heard testimony Feb. 19 on a bill that would increase the contract value for bridge and road projects in which counties must undergo a formal bidding process.

Counties currently undergo an informal bidding process if a contract is less than $60,000 for bridge and road projects and less than $10,000 for material costs. Such contracts automatically are awarded to the lowest bidder. Projects that are estimated above the allotted costs must go through a formal bidding process, which requires county board approval.

LB623, introduced by Bellevue Sen. Scott Price, would raise the bidding threshold to $150,000 for county contracts for bridge and road repair projects and to $20,000 for material costs.

The threshold for county road and bridge projects has not been raised since 1988, Price said, and it should be adjusted to reflect current inflation costs. The formal bidding process costs the county roughly $5,000 per project, Price said, so the bill also would save the counties and taxpayers money.

Larry Dix of the Nebraska Association of County Officials testified in support of the bill. Rural communities have fewer options for contractors, he said, so with less competition the project costs sometimes are much higher. Increasing the contract value to forgo the formal bidding process would make bridge and road projects more efficient for smaller counties, he said.

No one testified in opposition and the committee took no immediate action on the bill.

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