Nebraska Department of Aeronautics Director Ronnie Mitchell speaking at a news conference with Department of Roads Director Kyle Schneweis and Governor Pete Ricketts, told reporters that users of Nebraska airports shouldn’t fear the absorption of the Department of Aeronautics into a new Department of Transportation (DOT). In fact, Mitchell said they should welcome it.
Mitchell went on to assure Nebraskans that aviation wouldn’t get lost in the bigger DOT. “I don’t think anyone involved with airports or airplanes will notice any change,” Mitchell said during the news conference on LB 339, the bill that rolled Aeronautics and the Department of Roads into a newly created DOT. “We’re still going to be doing the same things that we’ve been doing; supporting our airports in this state.”
LB 339 easily passed through the legislature this year, receiving 47 votes, with no opposition. Their were two senators who abstained from voting.
Officials from the Department of Aeronautics began working with their counterparts in the Department of Roads months ago to make sure that, should the bill pass, there would be a seamless transition into the Department of Transportation. Mitchell says there is more work to do, but that his department is moving forward with great momentum.
Nebraska has 80 public-use airports with rural airports facing increasing challenges. Mitchell hopes the savings from the merger could be used to provide some help to meet those challenges.