Saving the bridge

Workers with the Nebraska Department of Roads and a subcontractor work on dumping concrete on the bank of the Elkhorn River on Friday to help save the approach along a bridge on Highway 275 between Oakdale and Neligh. The Elkhorn River was at the top of its banks because of the the heavy rain that western Nebraska received over the last few days.

NORFOLK — The Nebraska Department of Transportation’s updated list of road construction projects for the 2020 fiscal year includes several in Northeast Nebraska in light of the historic March flooding. 

According to the department, federal reimbursement for damages to federal aid roadways or bridges will range between 80% to 100% of the expenses. For example, work done during or immediately following a disaster to restore essential traffic, minimize the extent of damage or to protect the remaining facilities is reimbursable at a higher percentage than work undertaken after the disaster to restore the highway to pre-disaster conditions.

The state transportation department’s 2020 Program — from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020 — is a record $782 million when factoring in an estimated $153 million in emergency expenses across all seven districts in the state.

The state is divided into eight districts, with District 3 containing Northeast Nebraska. Planned for the district this fiscal year are 10 asset preservation projects, one capital improvement project, a districtwide system preservation project and districtwide emergency repairs.

Five of those projects were funded during the previous fiscal year, so the expense of the projects for the 2020 fiscal year is an estimated total north of $96 million.

Project cost estimates represent the planning estimates of the total costs of a project. Costs for the projects include preliminary engineering, right-of-way, utilities, early planning estimates of construction and other costs. They do not not represent the final estimated construction cost of any project that goes to letting for bid by contractors.

Among the projects already funded are asset preservation projects, including:

— A new Niobrara south on Highway 14 in Knox County ($3.2 million)

— A 0.7-mile stretch of urban road on Highway 75 in Thurston County ($7.3 million)

— Milling, resurfacing and a new bridge on an 11.2-mile stretch of Highway 14 north from Verdigre to Niobrara in Knox County ($6.5 million)

— Milling, resurfacing and a new bridge on a 5.8-mile stretch of Highway 75 from Winnebago to Homer in Dakota County ($2.5 million).

The fifth project already funded during the 2019 fiscal year in District Three is the capital improvement project, which is a 19.7-mile, four-lane upgrade on Highway 275 between Scribner and West Point in Cuming County. The cost of the project is an estimated $119 million.

Among the more costly asset preservation projects to be funded during the 2020 fiscal year is a 3.4-mile stretch on Highway 121 north at Gavins Point Dam east in Cedar County that needs milling, resurfacing and a new bridge ($6.4 million). The Highway 81/Highway 91 intersection improvement in Platte County is estimated to cost $3.4 million.

Other District 3 projects include a 5.3-mile stretch of Highway L-20A in Cuming County that requires resurfacing and a new bridge ($2.5 million) and a 6.7-mile stretch of Highway 81 in Pierce County that needs milling and resurfacing ($2.4 million).

The 2020 construction program for District 3 also includes a list of 11 standby projects, those that the department is not able to fully commit to for letting for bids in 2020.

Two of the more significant standby projects are milling, resurfacing and bridge repair/overlay on a 3.2-mile stretch of Interstate 129 in South Sioux City ($11.1 million), along with a 9.6-mile stretch of Highway 20 north of Dixon and south of Martinsburg in need of milling, resurfacing and a new bridge ($10.1 million).

The department also laid out a five-year planning program for each district, and as of now, District 3 has one capital improvement project and 41 asset preservation projects planned between fiscal years 2021 and 2025 totaling more than $257 million.

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