28 People attended a meeting at the Barneston village fire hall hosted by the Nebraska Department of Roads. Greg Weinert, Public Hearings Officer from KDOT presented information concerning replacement of the Big Blue River bridge on Highway 8. Weinert said the primary purpose of the meeting was to gather the public’s input on bridge placement. KDOT presented two viable options.
Option 1 would build a new bridge in the current bridge location. This plan titled, “bridge on-alignment” would require a long detour for up to 2 years. The second option the “south side” would build the new bridge to the immediate south of the current bridge, creating a small curve in the road. This option would allow two-lane traffic during construction except for the merging of the new and old highway. This option would require KDOT to purchase 4-5 acres of ground from owner to south. If the owner is unwilling to sell it may require an imminent domain process. Construction to the north of Highway 8 is not an option due to the village lagoon and wetlands.
According to Weinert, in 1990 KDOT and the areas citizens opted for continued repair of the bridge versus replacement. Since that time the bridge has continued to deteriorate. Currently the bridge traffic is subject to load limits. Weinert says the condition of the pylons and surface will eventually lead to the closure of the bridge for safety reasons.
Weinert believes those who attended the meeting were overwhelmingly in favor of replacing the bridge and many wanted to know when construction would begin. He said the majority supported the south side plan. There was some concern about the purchase of land needed for the south side plan. Weinert said he understood the concern because the land is top quality farm ground. KDOT will wait for the written comments from those involved and then continue with the planning stages of the project.