Nebraska celebrates opening of Highway 281 Bridge over Niobrara River

Event marked full mobility restoration on the State Highway System after catastrophic flooding in March 2019

October 23, 2020 / 2 minute read
Nebraska celebrates opening of Highway 281 Bridge over Niobrara River
Image: Nebraska DOT via Twitter

The Nebraska DOT (NDOT) joined local and state officials yesterday to celebrate the opening of the permanent bridge on Highway 281 over the Niobrara River south of Spencer.

The event also marked full mobility being restored on the State Highway System after catastrophic flooding in March 2019. On March 14, 2019, the dam at Spencer was compromised and resulted in significant damage to Highway 281 at Spencer. On July 26, 2019, a temporary bridge was completed, allowing direct access in the region once again. Prior to the temporary bridge installation, locals were required to utilize a 127-mile detour to cross the river. With the operational temporary bridge, NDOT was able to reestablish mobility on Highway 281 over the Niobrara.

“We at NDOT are part of the community,” Mark Kovar, NDOT District 8 Engineer, said in a statement. “We live here and raise our families here. The flood of 2019 was felt by all of us. Getting to today took a lot of work, coordination and effort from NDOT and our industry partners. It also took partnership and patience from the community, which was devastated by the flooding. We know getting the roadway open was of utmost importance to help with recovery.”

As a result of the March 2019 flood, 3,300 miles of the State Highway System was closed. Once the damage was assessed, over 27 bridges required major work or total rebuilds in addition to over 200 miles of pavement requiring total rebuilds of significant repair. NDOT finalized repairs on the final project on Thursday, Oct. 15, approximately 580 days since the flood occurred on March 13, 2019.

NDOT worked closely with Olsson to expedite the design of the reconstruction. Hawkins Construction is the lead contractor on this project. The $25,470,887 contract covers the single lane temporary roadway and bridge as well as a permanent 1,050-ft bridge over the Niobrara River Channel.

“Recovery from the flood was something that took a lot of coordinated efforts from NDOT’s team and our partners across the state and at the federal level," NDOT Director Kyle Schneweis said in a statement. “We got here today because a lot of folks worked really hard and changed our approach on how we look at projects and how we can get them accomplished. Full mobility restored to this region in less than two years is something you don’t see all the time.”

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SOURCE: Nebraska DOT

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