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Nebraska county’s bridge work nearly complete after a decade

April 5, 2018

In this undated photo, Saunders County, Neb., Highway Superintendent Steve Mika poses in front of a closed bridge along County Road I, between County Roads 19 and 20. The eastern Nebraska county is nearly caught up on its bridge repair work spanning the last decade. (The Tribune via AP)

WAHOO, Neb. (AP) — An eastern Nebraska county is nearly caught up on its bridge repair work spanning the last decade.

Saunders County had to replace or repair about 100 bridges after a 2007 Minnesota bridge collapse led to tougher standards for regulations and inspections. The county is finally close to reopening its bridges, with only five remaining fully closed. But work needs to be done on many open bridges still considered structurally deficient, the Fremont Tribune reported .

The county’s Highway Department has 78 projects planned for the next six years, 43 of which are prioritized for this year. Nearly all of this year’s projects will focus on structurally deficient bridges, which have low weight limits.

“Some of these bridges that are 6 or 7 tons are basically closed to the farmers anyway because their equipment’s too heavy to get across it,” said Steve Mika, the county’s highway superintendent. “We’re working to get these opened up as fast as we can, or in a replacement system.”

The county has replaced 10 structurally deficient bridges so far this year.

“The biggest challenge is probably the money side,” Mika said.

The 43 projects listed this year are estimated to cost more than $7.5 million. Projects vary from the cheapest estimated at $15,000 to the most expensive at $1 million.

“If I had the money, this would have been done a long time ago, but everything’s on a schedule and we’re trying to get everything opened up in a timely manner as fast as we can,” Mika said.

Bridge work is funded through county money, federal aid and the County Bridge Match program, a state initiative that offers funding for “innovative solutions” to repair structurally deficient bridges.

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Information from: Fremont Tribune, http://www.fremontneb.com

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