DECATUR, Neb. - Officials have been working on an agreement to take over a bridge that has linked northeast Nebraska and northwest Iowa since 1955.
The bridge carries Nebraska Highway 51 traffic east and Iowa Highway 175 west over the Missouri River. It's situated at Decatur, Neb., about eight miles west of Onawa, Iowa.
The bridge was closed for four months last year after floodwaters scoured a hole near a pier and the eastern abutment on the east bank. That required closure of Iowa Highway 175 leading up to the bridge and forced local commuters to make a 150-mile round trip through Sioux City.
Clark Beck, manager and secretary/treasurer of the Burt County Bridge Commission is shown recently at the commission's toll bridge over the Missouri River in Decatur, Neb. The commission and the states of Iowa and Nebraska have begun talks about the future of the bridge.
During peak summer months, about 2,000 vehicles a day use the bridge.
Bridge manager Clark Beck told the Sioux City Journal that rising maintenance bills and costly repairs have taken a toll on the Burt County (Neb.) Bridge Commission's bottom line. Bridge tolls probably can't keep up with the future costs.
"Mainly, there's going to be some expense and quite a lot of it," Beck said. "We figure there is enough money to repair what's got to be done now."
Nebraska and Iowa officials said the agreement was still being finished and no date has been set for the ownership transfer.
Iowa Department of Transportation District 3 engineer Tony Lazarowicz said that under the pending agreement, Iowa and Nebraska would maintain the bridge for 15 to 20 more years.
Then, he said, replacement would be likely at an estimated cost of $50 million to $60 million.
"The states of Iowa and Nebraska both recognize it's an important crossing," Lazarowicz said. "That became more evident last year during the flood."