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Design pact OK’d for Elkhorn bridge

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Posted: Thursday, September 19, 2013 9:08 am

The final version of an agreement to pay for design work to protect the Elkhorn River bridge southwest of Norfolk from future flooding was approved Tuesday.

All that’s needed now are signatures from Nebraska Central Railroad and from Union Pacific Railroad, which owns the bridge and leases it to Nebraska Central.

The Madison County Railroad Transportation Safety District board acted Tuesday on the agreement, which calls for $40,000 from the district and $20,000 each from the two railroads. Olsson Associates will do the design.

Dennis Smith, Norfolk public works director, said he hopes to have the railroads’ signatures before the end of the week.

In reviewing the draft, Union Pacific took out language that the loss of railroad service to Norfolk three years ago “caused millions of dollars of’’ economic “impact’’ to industries and substituted “caused economic hardship.’’

The phrase “do all they can” also was removed from “the parties hereto wish to . . . to avert a similar loss of rail service in the future.’’

After Olsson finishes, the three parties will have to come to the table again to figure out who pays for the construction to stabilize the riverbank.

The river has changed course as a result of the 2010 flood, and the bridge could wash out again in the event of a new flood.

The project will move the river alignment closer to what it was before the flooding by installing rock spurs and bank armor to reinforce prior work that included riprap on the riverbank, according to the company’s proposal.

Olsson will survey 3,000 feet of riverbank and evaluate the best option to stabilize the bank upstream and downstream of the bridge as well as the cost of doing so.

Also prepared will be environmental and floodplain permits at the local, state and federal levels, including a Section 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Anticipated completion had been Nov. 29, but Smith said Olsson will likely want to extend that date.

In other business Tuesday, the railroad board approved a fiscal 2014 budget that includes a property tax requirement of $179,494, which is up from the current year’s $137,604.

The district also has $2.9 million in bonded indebtedness for construction of the Northeast Industrial Highway railroad viaduct over Victory Road.

Dick Johnson, the county’s engineer, reported good progress on the project, which is to be completed by July 1, but said the bridge crew has been slow to do its work.

Opening of Victory Road depends on when the beams are erected over the road for the railroad bridge. “We’d like to have that open for winter,’’ Johnson said.

© 2015 The Norfolk Daily News . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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