Photo by George Lauby
A dozer near the top of Birdwood overpass, Jan. 29
Photo by George Lauby
The south abutment, pictured from the top of the north abutment.
Long-standing road projects are taking shape in Lincoln County, ranging from a massive overpass to small wooden bridges.
The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners approved 14 projects Monday, including the massive $8 million Birdwood overpass at the west end of Bailey Yard.
While the new Birdwood overpass is going up, six old timber bridges will be replaced on country roads this summer.
County roads superintendent Jerry Hitchcock said construction is well underway on the overpass. Abutments are now built on both sides of the UP railroad tracks, thanks to a busy effort during the last month.
The overpass is on the west end of the busiest rail yard in the world.
The sandy soil of the abutments must settle and compact for three months or more, Hitchcock said, before construction can continue.
The total cost of the 13 other projects is $2.35 million.
There are also 14 other projects on the six-year plan, and the commissioners added one more -- South River Road -- to the list at the urging by several members of the public.
The South River Road runs west from U.S. Highway 83 (near the Quality Inn and Suites) to Buffalo Bill Ave. As the name indicates, the road runs along the South Platte River.
The mile-and-a-half gravel road carries about 500 vehicles on an average day, even though few people live along the road, Hitchcock said.
Lisa Burke of the Lincoln County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau said travelers are looking for the shortest route from I-80 and motels there to the Golden Spike Tower, Buffalo Bill’s Ranch and the Lincoln County Historical Museum. Dan Mauk of the Chamber and Development office and Eric Seacrest agreed. They asked that the road be paved.
The trio made the same request two years ago. In response, county crews spent several months in 2011 building a better base on the sandy road, adding clay and building up banks to reduce washboards and make the road more weatherproof.
On Monday, former Nebraska Department of Roads Engineer Les O’Donnell suggested a compromise. O'Donnell recommended the county move in stages toward paving the road, adding asphalt millings and oil to the base for a year or two, then paving it. He said that method worked well a few years ago to build Halligan Drive along the Iron Eagle golf course.
Hitchcock agreed that it would be a good plan, but cautioned that asphalt millings are getting harder to acquire.
Also, Mike Kelly of rural Sutherland urged the board to get going and replace the historic old one-lane Sutherland Bridge over the North Platte River. Kelly said he has to drive a swather 15 miles to reach a field that is only three miles away across the river, because the bridge is too narrow.
Kelly said the old bridge has other issues, including safety, functionality and “graffiti that would make a sailor blush.”
A new Sutherland bridge has been under consideration for more than 25 years, he said.
“You just have to prioritize it and get it done,” he said.
Commissioner Willis Roethemeyer assured Kelly he wants the bridge to be rebuilt in a year or two.
“We are accumulating funds,” Roethemeyer said. “The state has to figure out its allocation.”
Hitchcock said the Sutherland Bridge is one of the most needed projects in the state, but he is not sure of it's exact priority with state officials, who control federal cost-share funds.
Dick Hasenauer asked for an east-west road near the new “water farm” in southern Lincoln County. Hasenauer said farms there are landlocked, with no way to get around except a 50-mile round trip.
And, Eugene Avenue resident Michael Cook asked for help building up the avenue, which also gets more traffic from Buffalo Bill Ave. to U.S 83, now that Buffalo Bill crosses I-80 and the So. Platte River.
Planned one-year projects in order of priority:
1. East State Farm Rd and CNPPID canal - replace timber bridge. $440,000.
2. Miller School Rd – for 2 miles, drain, grade and stabilize. $27,000.
3. Gun Club Rd – replace timber bridge with two 96-inch culverts. $35,000.
4. Murray Ave – build 3.75 miles of new road south of UP tracks from Game Trail Road to Murray Ave., which goes into Hershey. $500,000. This project is required by the Birdwood overpass because railroad crossings in the area will be closed.
5. Birdwood overpass. $8 million.
6. Rolling Hills Rd – stabilize sand road with asphalt millings starting at N. Airport Road for 1 mile. Cost unknown.
7. Walker Rd – Armor coat (seal cracks and oil coat) 11.5 miles of asphalt from the city limits to Hershey-Dickens Rd. $213,000.
8. Opal Springs Rd – overlay 2.25 miles of asphalt in the Wellfleet area. $316,000.
9. Prairie Trace Rd – 2” overlay from Sutherland north to North River Bridge. $474,000.
10. Stark Rd – replace timber bridge over Birdwood Creek. $120,000.
11. Callahan and Gilman Roads – replace bridge with two 36” culverts. $9,000.
12. Gibson Rd – replace bridge with a 96” culvert. $20,000.
13. Box Elder Rd – replace bridge with 48” culvert. $3,000.
14. Wellfleet Cemetery Rd – 2” overlay. $163,000.
15. Knoll Rd – grade, drain and stabilize 2 miles beginning at Nelson Rd. $31,000.