Nebraska seems to have caught a big break on the costs to fix highways damaged by last month’s flood.

After initially estimating $429 million in state highway flood damage, the State of Nebraska now anticipates that it faces $100 million in repair and rebuilding costs.

That’s no small number — but it’s considerably less than the damage officials estimated when floodwaters still covered roadways.

Tim Weander, the Omaha area district engineer for the Nebraska Department of Transportation, updated the cost estimates at a press conference Thursday morning in Omaha. Out of that $100 million, the Omaha area faces some $20 million in rebuilding costs, he said.

For Omaha, officials are hoping that the federal government will fully reimburse the $20 million in costs.

It’s still to be decided how all the costs ultimately will be spread between the state and the federal government through emergency funding. The federal government could fully reimburse the state’s costs on emergency repairs completed within 180 days, or pay back the state at 80% for other permanent repairs.

Weander said the state had requested $48 million in “quick release” funds from the Federal Highway Administration to expedite repairs.

Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that Nebraska would receive $25 million in those “quick release” emergency funds.

The federal Transportation Department called the grant a down payment on the costs of short-term repairs, what Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao called “an important first step” as the state continues damage assessments for long-term repairs.

U.S. Sens. Ben Sasse called the funding welcome news and U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer said she was grateful to Chao.

Gov. Pete Ricketts thanked Chao and President Donald Trump. “Getting our state moving again is vital to growing our economy.”

In addition to funding state highway repairs, that initial federal money also could help pay for damage to county and city roads that are eligible for federal assistance, said Vicki Kramer, communications director of the Nebraska Department of Transportation. The current estimate for that local damage stands at $60 million.

So combined, 100 different state highway projects and some 200 local road projects from the floods are estimated to cost $160 million.

Kyle Schneweis, director of the Nebraska Department of Transportation, said the funding will jump-start the state’s process to get the projects completed.

If the current damage estimates remain in the ballpark, Schneweis said he would not expect another down payment from the federal government. Typically, the remaining federal reimbursement would be available in another year or so, he said.

As the work proceeds, Weander asked for the traveling public’s patience.

“We will get to the roads as fast as we can,” he said.

Statewide, 3,300 miles of highway were initially closed due to flooding, Schneweis said. But as of Thursday, that has been reduced to 103 miles, he said.

In the Omaha metro area, an estimated 150 miles of highway were closed by flooding. That’s down to 30 miles.

Out of six projects that still needed work in the Omaha area, one has been completed and reopened: U.S. Highway 77 north of Fremont at Winslow.

Five more are progressing, including rebuilding West Dodge Road at Waterloo and West Center Road west of the Elkhorn River. Hawkins Construction of Omaha was chosen for the West Dodge project, which will need to replace a half-mile of pavement in each direction.

Weander said the project can use previous construction plans for the job, without having to redesign the highway.

West Center is expected to take longer to fix. An entire bridge needs replacing, he said, and does need design work.

Constructors Inc. of Lincoln received the contract for that job.

Weander was cautious about estimating when all the flooded highways will be repaired and reopened. The state is projecting June for West Dodge and July for West Center.

“I think summer we’re going to be pretty well back to normal.”