U.S. Highway 30 east of North Platte re-opened on Monday, after workers successfully paved the westbound lane of the North Platte River Bridge, despite record snowfall.

The highway closed to thru traffic on Sunday, Jan. 15 for the paving work. Before the snow started to fall Tuesday night, the concrete was poured, covered with tarp and warmed by heating tubes.

Construction Foreman Marvin Bautista said three ground heaters control the temperature of the concrete as it cures. The heaters pump heated hydraulic fluid through tubes over the area, similar to the way a radiator or geothermal heating grid works.

Bautista said the temperature of the concrete has remained around 70 degrees since the pour, thanks to the ground heaters, which allowed the work to proceed.

The bridge was closed for nine days so there would be no traffic vibrations while the concrete cured.

There are 20 more workdays scheduled on the project.

Project manager Josh Willard of the Nebraska Department of Transportation said the completion date is a moving target. It depends on the weather.

The bridge is just west of the airport. It connects North Platte to the city’s regional airport as well as the village of Maxwell. It has been under construction for most of the year for extensive renovation. Motor vehicle traffic has been limited to one lane, except for a short time in September and again in January when both lanes were closed.

One more closure is scheduled before the work is finished. Then, workers will pour a four-foot wide strip of concrete the length of the bridge, between the two halves. Willard said the strip will allow each side of the bridge to move independently so stress won’t be transferred from one side to the other.

KEA Constructors LLC, of Milford is the prime contractor.

During closure of the highway, travelers use I-80 to get from North Platte to the airport, a one-way detour of more than 20 miles.

Photos by Kat Tedder

One of the ground heating units.

© 2023 The North Platte Bulletin. All rights reserved.