BEATRICE – Gage County is getting a major federal appropriation through Congress that will fund two paving projects.

County Supervisor Emily Haxby, who’s been doing extensive work on researching and preparing grant applications, made the announcement at Wednesday’s county board meeting on an appropriation sought through Representative Adrian Smith’s office.  "It was for $5.4 million for milling and overlaying the Odell Road and the Christ Lutheran Road....and that ended up coming out one-hundred percent funded."

The money will go toward resurfacing nearly 18 miles of roadway. Gage County Board member Terry Jurgens says he was floored by the news. "I've never seen anything like it...I mean, unbelievable. I was never much in favor of grants, but I am now."

Haxby has said two other grant applications in the county are pending on other projects. "We do have the RAISE grant out, where we will be notified by the end of June if we're successful with that. That's for $25 million. I applied for it, fully funded, as well...because in a rural area, they allow fully funded applications and it will not hinder our ranking for that grant. The other one that I just sent in last night is the BIP...The Bridge Investment Program grant. It's five bridges that are large bridges that are weight-restricted. It ended up being about a $20.5 million estimated cost....and that would be 80-20. We will know in the fall, on that one."

Board Chairman Erich Tiemann says the federal earmark announced today is a benefit on projects that a local county’s budget may not be able to support…at least not without bond financing.

"We really tried to plant the seed that these are a fantastic thing for out local counties. This will push some paving out....and we'll keep on with structure replacements and repairs as well as additional paving."

The two road projects would most likely start in 2025…because the process, including environmental review….goes through the Nebraska Department of Transportation. County officials say the grant was received without the county incurring any consulting costs to seek the appropriation or apply for the grants.