Western Nebraska is defined by wide open spaces. But the open vistas which we treasure also can create logistical nightmares for transportation of goods and services, to say nothing for the everyday traveler. Access to highways, railways, and airways is vital to our commerce and our way of life.
Towns and villages are separated by miles, and remote communities are often at a disadvantage when it comes to safe, reliable transportation. Our transportation infrastructure and those who ensure its safety and efficiency are major components of our state's economy. For the Third District to remain strong, we must invest in infrastructure -- from roads to airports to railroads.
I will be hosting a series of free, interactive transportation summits in Gering, North Platte, and Grand Island. These summits will give businesses, government officials, and interested citizens a chance to discuss with state and federal policymakers issues concerning transportation funding, the status of current transportation projects, and other transportation issues.
Each summit will feature discussions on a variety of topics -- including Nebraska highways, motor carriers, railroads, and aviation infrastructure. There is no charge to attend the summits, and they are open to the public. Interested parties are encouraged to RSVP by calling my Grand Island office at (308) 384-3900, emailing RSVPtoAdrian@mail.house.gov, or by visiting my website at http://adriansmith.house.gov.
The first summit will be held on Monday, August 16th, in Gering at the Civic Center (1050 M Street) and will focus on highways and motor carriers. Beginning at 10:00 a.m. (Mountain) and lasting until noon, we will have discussions with representatives from the Federal Highway Administration, the Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR), the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and the Nebraska Highway Commission.
The afternoon session, which starts at 1:00 p.m. (Mountain) and finishes up at 3:00 p.m., will feature experts from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the American Trucking Association, and the Ports-to-Plains Association.
On Tuesday, Aug. 17, we will be meeting in North Platte at the Sandhills Convention Center (2101 S. Jeffers Street). The first session will run from 10:00 a.m. (Central) to noon and attendees will be able to hear from the Federal Highway Administration, NDOR, NEMA, and the Nebraska Department of Travel and Tourism.
The afternoon discussion (1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Central) will focus on our rail industry and will feature the Federal Railroad Administration, the American Shortline and Regional Railroad Association, and the American Association of Railroads.
We will wrap-up the week's discussion in Grand Island on Wednesday, August 18th, at the Bosselman Conference Center at Fonner Park (700 E. Stolley Park Road). The morning session (10:00 a.m. to noon Central) will give individuals from the eastern areas of our state a chance to hear from the Federal Highway Administration, NDOR, NEMA, and a representative from the Columbus Chamber of Commerce.
The afternoon session will again run from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (Central) and will feature representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration, Nebraska Department of Aeronautics, and the National Business Aviation Association.
The challenges to our transportation systems can be formidable, and these summits will give Nebraskans an opportunity to hear from experts in each field. Distances can be overcome, but local communities need to have the flexibility and institutional knowledge to keep Nebraska running. I want to make sure rural Americans have access to safe and efficient transportation and the economic opportunities the best roads, air services, and railroads provide. I look forward to seeing you there.