PLEASANTON — The cracked, crumbling, uneven and narrow portions of North Highway 10 soon will receive much anticipated repairs and additions.
The Nebraska Department of Transportation announced earlier this week that construction will begin Monday on the highway from Pleasanton south to about 145th Road north of Kearney.
Kent Washington, who is overseeing the construction project for NDOT, said construction will include resurfacing and adding eight-foot shoulders to the 10.38 mile stretch of highway. Six feet of the shoulders on each side of the highway will be paved, he said, while the remaining will be dirt.
Rural Pleasanton resident Rory Cruise had spearheaded a campaign in late 2016 to add shoulders to the highway. He inspired 580 concerned area residents to write letters to NDOT.
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Cruise, who owns three agricultural businesses between Pleasanton and Kearney, said he wanted a safe highway for his employees.
“If my driver blows a tire, he doesn’t have anywhere to pull off,” Cruise said in a 2016 interview.
Cruise said he also was concerned about the safety of the road for local school buses, EMTs, citizens and law enforcement. He cited several fatal and non-fatal accidents that have occurred on the narrow road the last several years. Most recently, he referenced an accident on Saturday.
“So the car dropped off the edge of the road and tried to get back on, lost control, came around and then rolled, then smashed against (a) barn right there,” he said.
When Cruise had started the petition for a safer road, he didn’t realize that six-foot paved shoulders were already in the plan. But he still met with highway commissioners in hopes that they would pave eight-foot shoulders to match the width from Kearney to 140th Road. He additionally asked if they could shave down the road at a few intersections on the top of hills to improve visibility.
However, Cruise said the commissioners thanked him for his input, but they were going to stick with their plan.
Cruise said he was disappointed.
The shoulders in the transportation department’s plan will be safer for his drivers, he said, but “not completely safe.” If Cruise’s truck drivers need to pull over and the soil is wet, he said their tires will get stuck in the two-foot dirt shoulder.
But he said, “I’m glad to hear that they’re finally going to get started.”
He continued, “I would like to thank everybody in the entire community for helping make this happen and to sign-on and be willing to provide a little bit of land to help improve safety for the whole community.”
Before crews begin laying asphalt on the highway and new shoulders, Washington said construction will include:
- Milling the road.
- Repairing guardrails and bridges at Pleasanton.
- Installing culverts and flumes for drainage.
- Removing asphalt and concrete where the road is falling apart.
- Moving dirt from backslopes to foreslopes to make room for shoulders.
Work will begin on the bridges and traffic will be reduced to one lane, Washington said. The speed limit will be reduced to 35 mph on the bridge with a 11-foot width restriction, which will be in place for the duration of the bridge repairs, according to NDOT.
Culvert work and grading will continue through the winter if the ground isn’t frozen, Washington said. Asphalt work will begin in the spring. Flaggers and pilot vehicles will control one-lane traffic at that time.
The entire project is anticipated to be completed by November 2020.
The project was anticipated to begin in March, but Washington said the right of way purchasing didn’t begin as planned and utility work had to be completed before construction could begin.
Werner Construction of Hastings was awarded the $7.78 million contract.