As if most of you couldn’t tell by now, construction season is here and will be for a while. The City Street Department has a few projects underway and more yet to start this summer. The biggest and most expensive is a project that the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) is completing on Highway 77 north of Beatrice. This project is costing the City of Beatrice approximately 1.5 million dollars for our portion of the project. With Highway 77 being a 4 lane highway the City is responsible for two lanes and the NDOT the other two. The NDOT is close to finishing up with the patching of compromised panels of roadway now and soon they will begin to overlay the highway with 2 inches of asphalt.
The City found out about this project with only a couple of years to prepare financially for it. Originally this project was going to cost the City approximately $965,000. This large amount and being notified about it with only two years to plan for it would have been very hard for a lot of municipalities to deal with without cutting construction projects and equipment purchases for multiple years. However, the City Street Department was lucky enough to have cash reserves on hand to offset the majority of the NDOT project costs without affecting future construction plans or equipment replacement, or so we thought.
This spring as we were preparing to send our first payment for the construction project we were notified from the NDOT that due to unforeseen circumstances with the project the City’s portion was being increased by approximately $500,000 for a total on our portion to just shy of $1.5 million. This was a shock and would make it very difficult for the City. After discussions between City Administration and the NDOT on reasons for the increase it was blamed on increases in the construction contracts. After discussing possible options with the NDOT it was agreed that the City would make the original large payment this first year then make three annual payments to the NDOT to pay for the unexpected increase on the project. By paying for the project this way the Street Department would not have to alter our 1 and 6 year construction plan.
With the all of the attention on the project on Highway 77 everyone will still see a fair amount of smaller projects going on thru out town. Recently Dorsey Street was reopened after being closed down for a little over a month for concrete repairs. These repairs were completed by the Street Department. One last project for Dorsey is still planned for this summer as a section of Dorsey from 9th to 11th Street will have a milling machine profile the surface to ensure all new and old concrete patches match. Two other concrete projects will replace entire sections of Summit Street from 7th Street to 9th Street and also on Bell Street from 9th Street to 11th Street. These two sections had deteriorated to a point where it made sense to replace everything including curbing and also each of the ADA ramps. Small concrete jobs will also be seen on 19th Street, Beaver Avenue, and North 6th Streets.
Other projects include the surface milling of Ella Street from 3rd to 6th Street and also on 3rd Street from Court Street to Ella Street. Approximately three inches of asphalt will be milled off and replaced with new asphalt. Along with the milling on these streets portions of broken curbing will be replaced as well the ADA ramps at each intersection will be replaced to meet code. These sections of 3rd Street and Ella Street will be closed to all traffic for approximately three days so that the milling, replacement of asphalt and all parking stalls, lane lines, lane arrows and crosswalks can be re-painted. Message boards will be used to notify all motorists of the closure and alternate routes will be marked.
As for the Street Department, once all of these concrete projects are completed our asphalt season will begin and we will start making our way thru town replacing troubled asphalt spots. With this being a large and what to looks to be a long construction season please remember when you see flashing lights or cones please slow down and look out for workers.