As we enter the fall season, I wanted to provide you an update on roads projects occurring in our Legislative District.
The Department of Roads continues to work diligently on the Highway 77 Platte River bridge project. Construction contracts are set to be let in a matter of days. The contractor who is awarded the project may be able to start some work as early as November. The new Platte River bridge is expected to be open to traffic by the summer or fall of 2013.
This is later than previously expected due to the monumentally frustrating requirements of the federal regulatory agencies. The Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have changed previous policy and approval for construction work in the Platte River. While past work in the Platte River could use a temporary causeways construction method, the Corps and Fish and Wildlife Service have required the Department of Roads and their contractors to use a temporary bridges construction process for this project. They assert that impacts to endangered species are too great to continue to use the causeways process.
The temporary bridges method adds significant time, complication, and expense to the project. Temporary bridges will have to be built to construct the new bridge and remove the old bridge. The Department of Roads fought this change in federal policy for over a year. The urgency of the project led to the Department to agree to use the temporary bridges process for this replacement bridge, but will continue to fight the regulatory agencies in future Platte River work.
Federal agency rules also limit the time that the contractor can be in the river to do construction work. Due to breeding seasons of the fish and birds, work is prohibited during the spring and early summer months. Winter ice issues also restrict the time period that work can be done in the river.
Incentives have been included in the construction contract for early completion. Contractors on Nebraska-based projects have had a good record of earning early incentive payments for large projects and I am hopeful that this will occur for this project as well.
The completion of the Highway 77 Platte River bridge will be a very welcome improvement to our District’s infrastructure. Highway 77 is a major part of our statewide transportation system and this improvement will only further our area’s commercial activities.
Highway 91 from the intersection of U.S. Highway 275/U.S. Highway 77 east to Blair has been closed to through truck traffic from September 10th through the completion of the 2012 resurfacing project. It remains open for regular traffic and farm vehicles in the area. Pavement damage has recently hit a critical stage and the Department felt it necessary to prevent even further deterioration of the road by detouring truck traffic. They will continue to patch the road until the reconstruction is completed. Traffic will remain open at least one lane for the duration of the 2012 project. There have been concerns raised about the length of time that heavy trucks will detour the area and I am contacting the Director of the Department of Roads to appeal the final decision to close the road to through truck traffic for this period of time. The resurfacing project will be a major upgrade to this highway, but we must consider the effect on through truck traffic in the meantime.
Highway 79 has been improved from North Bend to Snyder and this summer reflective striping was addressed and completed. For several months, there was a nationwide shortage of the necessary paint required for good reflection. As soon as the Department of Roads was able to acquire adequate supplies, they were able to finish the work.
Please continue to contact me with questions about these projects or any other issues you wish to discuss. I can be reached at 402-471-2625, email@example.com or District 15, State Capitol, Lincoln, NE 68509. I hope you had a pleasant summer and Go Big Red!