Closed for months, Cherry County highways reopen

Highway 97 southwest of Valentine in May 2016.

AINSWORTH — The Nebraska Department of Transportation has announced the return of normal two-way traffic to U.S. Highway 83 between Thedford and Valentine.

Normal traffic should resume by 5 p.m. Thursday. This area of highway has been covered with water since May 2019 as the result of abnormally high rainfall. Traffic has been limited to one-way traffic, controlled by stoplights, for several months. NDOT workers were able to pump enough water out of the low-lying area to get the water off the road and remove the temporary surfacing, allowing traffic to return to normal.

In addition, NDOT announced the opening of Nebraska Highway 97, which has been closed as the result of water over the road since this summer. The road will be one-lane traffic Thursday, but there is still a small amount of water covering a portion of the northbound lane, according to an NDOT press release. Motorists should use caution while traveling through the area. NDOT reports that a culvert was installed at Alkali Pond, providing drainage to allow the roadway to clear.

Next week, weather permitting, NDOT plans to raise a portion of the roadbed on Nebraska 61 between Hyannis and Merriman, which has had water over the road most of the summer.

“NDOT would like to thank all its partners for their tireless work to resume these critical corridors to the people of Nebraska,” the press release reads. “Work continues to restore normal operations in other areas of the state. We will continue to update the public as we complete projects and resume normal traffic operations.”

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