The status of repairs to the South River Road is still unknown, County Road Supervisor Carla O’Dell said Monday as she presented road improvement plans for the coming year.O’Dell laid out plans for the county commissioners for the next six years, as well as 15 plans set to be built this year.
In all, the one-year plan calls for $1.7 million in road improvements this year, without counting the rebuilding of South River Road, the road that was washed out in the spring flood of 2015 and is expected to cost $1.3 million.
Federal emergency funds are available to rebuild the road, but the money has not arrived yet.
O’Dell said she talked to the agency in charge last week -- the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, but didn’t learn when the money will arrive.
“We don’t know more now than we did awhile back,” she said.
O’Dell said the county submitted all the necessary information in early December to NEMA. And she said representatives of NEMA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency visited the site in November.
County Commissioner Joe Hewgley has previously said a primary challenge is getting representatives of all the agencies together to work out the final details. In addition to NEMA and Lincoln County, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is involved.
Hewgley was personally sidelined for six weeks by medical complications from a hip replacement, but returned a couple weeks ago in a wheelchair. He was back on his feet Monday.
Also, replacement of the 100-year-old, one-lane Sutherland Bridge over the North Platte River is again on hold, at least until 2022, O’Dell said.
The project could be selected for funds in 2019, but it would be 2022 until state and federal matching funds would be available.
O’Dell said the county would have to pay to design the new bridge, but federal money funneled through the state would pay the costs of construction.
Lincoln County climbed to the top of the waiting list for matching funds four years ago, but a bridge in eastern Nebraska was unexpectedly wiped out near Nebraska City, and money earmarked for the Sutherland Bridge went to repair that bridge.
Rancher Mike Kelly said the Sutherland Bridge had been on Lincoln County’s one and six-year road plan for nearly 30 years and he’s spoken at the county’s public hearings nearly every year.
“The bridge was built for Model Ts and horses and buggies,” he said. “We have to go to Hershey and back to cross the river with farm equipment.”
Kelly noted that the bridge serves about 200,000 acres in western Lincoln County and McPherson County, and school buses, ambulances and fire equipment cross the bridge.
“As if to add insult to injury, the county roads department came out last week and posted a 10-ton limit sign on the bridge,” he said.
O’Dell ordered the 10-ton signs to be posted after she attended a meeting of county officials, where she was reminded that without the signs, the county is liable for damages to the bridge and equipment on it, if it collapses when it is overloaded.
“I know you have an extremely difficult job,” Kelly told the commissioners, “but we’d like to see you keep the pressure on.”
Kelly suggested the commissioners tell Nebraska Public Power District officials that the bridge won’t support equipment needed to build a proposed electric transmission line from the Gerald Gentleman Station north to Thedford.
Commissioner Joe Hewgley said he was personally heartbroken when the money didn’t come through four years ago, after years and years of waiting.
The commissioners assured Kelly they would do all they can.
The one-year plan:
• Miller School Rd – grade, drain and stabilize 2 miles from Meadow Lawns Road north.
• Miller School Rd – grade, drain and stabilize 3 miles from Meadow Lawns Road south to end of road.
• South Platte River Bank Stabilization
• Hayes Center Road at Wellfleet Lake – replace and add to guardrail on south side (dam side.)
• Hershey-Dickens Road – micro surface 11 miles from Fear Rd. south to Neb. Highway 23.
• Cottonwood Canyon Road – 2-inch asphalt overlay of 2.5 miles south from Ft. McPherson Road.
• Banner Road – 3-inch overlay of five miles, from Bailey Road to Lonestar Road.
• Haythorn Road – Bridge replacement.
• Eshleman Road – grade, drain and stabilize 1.3 miles to Suburban Road.
• Snake Road – grade, drain and stabilize 2 miles.
• Nyblom Road - grade, drain and stabilize half mile from North Twin Lakes Road to U.S. 83.
• Eshleman Road – micro-surface .75 miles from Suburban Road to U.S. 83.
• Power Road - grade, drain and stabilize ¾ miles of road east from South Homestead Road.
• S. Dickens Road – micro-surface half mile of road south from Neb. 23.
• Callahan Road – replace bridge with culverts.