KEARNEY — A 4.8-mile section of Kearney’s hike-bike trail has reopened, but there still is considerable damage from the July 9 flood and it likely will be sometime in 2020 before the Kearney Park and Recreation Department totally reclaims the trail.
“There are parts where the water undercut the trail. There are sections where the concrete is broken into pieces. Basically, the ground below gave way and it washed out the trail,” said Park and Rec Director Scott Hayden.
Before the flood, the Cottonmill Hike-Bike Trail stretched a total of 13.1 miles to Fort Kearny State Recreation Area. The 4.8-mile section that reopened Monday is from Yanney Heritage Park to The Archway.
Still needing repairs is the stretch from The Archway to Fort Kearny, where Hayden described places where the earthen berm on which the trail’s concrete surface rests has been washed away. In some cases, the concrete surface also is washed away. Additionally, there’s a pedestrian bridge that must be replaced, and the flood deposited logs and other hazardous debris in Turkey Creek.
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The debris must be removed, but the banks along the Turkey Creek also must be stabilized. Hayden said bank stabilization is a process that requires review and approval of plans by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The city of Kearney has hired Miller & Associates Engineering of Kearney to work with the Corps on bank stabilization, Hayden said.
He estimates that repairing the pedestrian bridge will be a $250,000 expense. Repairing the remaining trail damages will cost $300,000, it has been estimated, “but it’s pretty early,” Hayden said.
He said costs could grow or they might fall, but until all repairs are complete sometime in 2020, the trail east of The Archway to the Interstate 80 undercrossing will remain closed until they are repaired.
“It’s about 10 areas that need attention,” he said. “In addition to the trail there is a lot of backfill that has to be done along with bank stabilization along Turkey Creek. There’s more severe damage from the Archway east.”
Hayden said the city’s hike-bike trails are a recreational and transportation asset. “We have a great trail system, and a lot of people were pretty excited when we added the section to Fort Kearny,” he said, “But it will be next year before the trail reopens entirely.”
Archway Parkway, also known as First Street, remains closed west of The Archway because floods washed out part of the street.
Archway visitors still can reach the attraction using the I-80 exit one mile east of The Archway.