A steel building in Niobrara, Nebraska, that was crushed by thick blocks of ice pushed by an 11-foot wall of water that crashed into the town.

Two more bridges in the area of the Niobrara River that were damaged in the March floods are heading toward reconstruction, with a goal of opening temporary access to Highway 12 by Aug. 15.

The Nebraska Department of Transportation awarded a $44.17 million contract to rebuild and repair the Highway 12 bridge over the Niobrara River west of the town of Niobrara and the Highway 12 bridge over the Mormon Canal, which is just west of the Niobrara River bridge.

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The contract follows the authorization of work on the Highway 281 bridge over the Niobrara River south of Spencer.

Hawkins Construction Co. of Omaha received both construction contracts. Alfred Benesch & Co. is designing the Highway 12 work.

The Highway 281 project is a $25.47 million contract; Olsson has been a consultant on the work.

Northeast Nebraska continues to have numerous highway routes cut off by flood damage.

Boyd County Sheriff Chuck Wrede, in an interview last month, said residents were frustrated by the ongoing road closures and long detours, and gas stations and other businesses were hurting, too, from the lack of traffic.

“It’s causing a lot of hardship financially to everybody,” he said.

Vicki Kramer, communications director for the Department of Transportation, said the department is seeing a number of other projects in the area move forward around the same time.

  • A contract was awarded for Highway 58 east of Boelus.
  • Work is underway on Highway 116 south of Dixon and Highway 13 east of Hadar.
  • The department was working on contracts for a Highway 11 bridge south of Butte, a bridge on Highway 94 east of Pender and a bridge on N-57 southeast of Stanton
  • Work has finished on Highway 15 south of Schuyler.

As more projects move to construction, the State of Nebraska is seeing its price tag rise for road reconstruction.

In April, the state estimated that it would face $100 million in repair and rebuilding costs.

But Kramer said further analysis shows that the figure will be closer to $130 million to $140 million.

Exactly how much of that will be reimbursed by the federal government has yet to be determined. Temporary repairs will be fully reimbursed, but permanent repairs are reimbursed at 80%.

According to the Transportation Department, the Highway 12 bridge over the Niobrara had its approach and girders damaged, while the Mormon Canal bridge washed out and floated down the river.

On Highway 281, flooding washed out part of the highway south of the bridge, the department said. A temporary roadway is due to open by Aug. 1. The permanent replacement bridge is due for completion in spring 2021.

World-Herald staff writer Erin Duffy contributed to this report.

Reporter - Education

Erin is an enterprise reporter for the World-Herald. Previously, Erin covered education. Follow her on Twitter @eduff88. Phone: 402-444-1210.

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