STANTON — When the rushing Elkhorn River wiped out part of the Highway 57 bridge south of here on March 14, it disrupted the lives of thousands of residents around the community.
The same is true all over the state, especially in the Nebraska Department of Transportation’s District 3, which covers 15 counties in Northeast Nebraska. Contractors have been working hard ever since to get bridges repaired and roads reopened.
Along with the recent bridge and road openings, there is more good news after the flood.
“We hope to have all highways open by the end of 2019,” said Matt Samuel, district project delivery engineer for the Nebraska Department of Transportation. “Around Niobrara, we have some one-lane condition and that is where it will stay for now. We will continue to work on permanent bridge replacement through 2020, but traffic is ready.”
Samuel said the fix for the Stanton bridge over the Elkhorn River requires several steps.
“The fix will be basically driving a sheet pile wall on the south side where the abutment used to be,” Samuel said. “The sheets have all been driven in and we are back filling that area with sand fill.”
The approach itself then will be repaired. Work is ongoing with M.E. Collins of Wahoo the contractor.
The bridge is expected to be finished in November.
Earlier this week, there was good news in the Niobrara area with the opening of Highway 12 over the Niobrara River and the temporary bridge over the Mormon Canal,
The bridge over the canal was completely wiped out. Samuel said the temporary bridge over the canal includes a stoplight and one-way traffic until 2020. A new permanent bridge is being built now.
“At least traffic can get across the Niobrara and Mormon Canal now,” Samuel said.
Bridge near Yankton
Elsewhere, the contract has just been let for another bridge about one-fourth of a mile west of the Highway 81 and Highway 121 junction south of Yankton.
The bridge, which has been out since spring, has the contractor mobilizing now to get started.
“There’s no physical work being done yet, but they are mobilizing equipment and going to be hitting that one pretty hard,” Samuel said. “The expectation is to have that one open by the end of this year.”
Highway 94 bridge
East of Pender, the department is repairing the Highway 94 bridge and the approach that covers the Logan Creek.
“That has some significant damage so we’re making repairs to increase the stability of that bridge and make approach corrections because we had the approach to that one kind of give way. It’s not necessarily a bridge item per se, but the roadway leading up to the bridge,” Samuel said.
What’s known by many as the Hadar bridge, about one-fourth of a mile west of Highway 81, continues to be worked upon. The bridge, which is east of Hadar on Highway 13, has a lot of cranes and other activity taking place.
Samuel said much of the old bridge has been removed and the new components are being installed.
“That will be a 100 percent new bridge,” he said. That one also has a fall completion date.
Just south of Dixon, Highway 116 was reopened a little more than a week ago. There was a bridge located about one-fourth of a mile south of Dixon that had to be repaired.
Repairs in 15 counties
There are dozens of repairs sites all around the 15 counties that are continuing to be worked upon. In addition, some of the roads that were damaged were able to be repaired quickly.
The State of Nebraska will get some FEMA funds for the projects and some reimbursement from the Federal Highway Administration.
Samuel, who has worked for the transportation department for nearly 12 years, said the damage from the flooding is amazing for how widespread it was.
Nevertheless, the department also is completing some overlays and shoulder work around the district, but many of those projects are part of routine maintenance.