Local News

2020 is the year for replacement of the North Platte River bridge north of Sutherland. Lincoln County Roads Superintendent Carla O’Dell said an agreement has been reached with the Nebraska Department of Transportation for the work.

The money will actually come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, through the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency. Those funds will pay for construction and the county will pay for engineering costs.

At their meeting Monday, county commissioners voted to approve the agreement. Lincoln County had already contracted with Miller and Associates Consulting Engineers, P.C., of Kearney for design work.

O’Dell said the new bridge will accommodate two lanes of traffic, and she estimated that construction will take 12 to 14 weeks. She did not know when in 2020 construction would begin.

NDOT had announced in December that the bridge was at the top of its funding priority list. However, it has been at the top of the list before, only to be bumped. This agreement is an important step in ensuring that won’t happen again.

O’Dell also asked commissioners to consider steps to issue a bond for repair of county roads. The bond would be in the range of $2 million to $3 million. At issue are areas that include 8.5 miles of East State Farm Road that are “starting to break up pretty bad,” O’Dell said.

Commissioner Kent Weems added that “Splinter (Road) is trash,” and O’Dell said, “Fort McPherson (Road) is just as bad.”

Weems said “These are arterials of our county” and need to be taken care of.

Commissioners agreed with O’Dell’s assessment and voted to direct her to work with D.A. Davidson Co. to develop a bond proposal for consideration.

“We’re going to pay whether we do it now or later,” Board Chairman Joe Hewgley said, and “it’s going to end up costing us more money” if the project is put off, because the roads will continue to deteriorate.

“I’m as frugal as anyone,” Commissioner Bill Henry said, but he agreed that a bond should be considered. He also noted that the size of the bond would not be large enough to require voter approval.

O’Dell said she will present her one- and six-year road maintenance proposals at next week’s county board meeting. The meeting will be on Tuesday because Monday is Presidents Day.

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