Iowa and Nebraska officials discuss future reopening of Missouri River toll bridge

News

August 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa – Aug. 12, 2011 – Officials with the Iowa Department of Transportation 
(DOT), Nebraska Department of Roads, Federal Highway Administration, and Burt County
(Nebraska) Bridge Commission met this week to discuss strategies that will lead to 
the eventual reopening of the toll bridge carrying Iowa 175/Nebraska 51 over the
Missouri River at Decatur, Neb.

The bridge is owned and operated by the Burt County Bridge Commission. It has been
closed since June due the Missouri River flooding, which caused severe embankment
erosion and material loss on the Iowa side of the bridge, as well as deep scouring
around the east bridge abutment and pier. Recognizing the importance of this bridge
to communities in both states, all parties involved are anxious to get the bridge 
reopened to traffic as quickly as possible. With this goal and public safety in mind,
the agencies outlined a plan of action. 

Because the flood waters have not yet started to recede, there remain many unknowns
regarding the condition of the bridge and surrounding area. Thus, the agencies 
outlined a plan with the necessary flexibility to adjust to any new discoveries. 
In addition to discussing what actions can be taken and tentative timing,
participants in the meeting received information about the federal Emergency Relief
funding that may be able to assist with the costs of previous work, as well as the
additional work that will be needed. 
Several problems are readily apparent at the bridge site that will require corrective 
action when the waters recede. Those problems include slope instability, substructure
concerns and major scour around the critical structural elements of the bridge and 
roadway approach. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ current schedule is to reduce the
output of water from Gavins Point Dam to approximately 90,000 cfs by the end of August.
Barring additional rain that would change this schedule, it is possible that the engineers
may able to perform a more detailed analysis of the problems at that time.

Once the analysis is complete, the next step will be to quickly develop a corrective 
action plan and issue emergency contracts to perform the work. The amount of time that
will be required to complete the work hinges on the extent of the damage. Anything that
can be done to expedite the work will be considered. The Iowa DOT will continue to provide 
regular updates regarding this situation as new information becomes available. 

(IA-DOT News Release)