Now open

Cars go over the temporary bridge on U.S. Highway 12 west of Niobrara on Saturday afternoon. The March flood took out the old bridge after the Spencer Dam broke. In the background is what’s left of the old bridge.

NIOBRARA — The Highway 12 bridge over the Niobrara River west of Niobrara has reopened to traffic after a massive reconstruction effort after March flooding caused significant damage to the approach and girders of the bridge and completely washed out the bridge over the Mormon Canal.

“Nebraska’s road to recovery continues to move forward, and today marks another great milestone in our state’s efforts to rebuild,” Gov. Pete Ricketts said. “The opening of Highway 12 over the Niobrara River is another key link in establishing connectivity for local residents, the community, travelers and commerce in the area.”

Reconstruction of Highway 12 was the most complex and expensive transportation flood recovery project in the state. In June, a $44 million contract was awarded to Hawkins Construction to begin immediate work to repair the Niobrara River Bridge and install a 24-foot-wide, single-lane temporary bridge to provide access over the Mormon Canal, while a new permanent bridge is being built.

“Highway 12 presented a unique challenge due to the pace and complexity of the project,” said Chris Hawkins, chief operating officer of Hawkins Construction. “That, combined with the amount of flood recovery work we were already performing, required us to bring in a team from multiple states — whom we thank for their rapid response and commitment to opening the bridge early.”

The department also worked closely with Alfred Benesch & Co. on the design of the reconstruction with plans to have the temporary roadway in service by Aug. 15.

Area subcontractors included Gross Seed Co. of Johnstown, which provided erosion control and seeding.

Prior reconstruction efforts in the area included repair work to damaged sections of Highway 12 east of Niobrara where K. Porter Construction of Norfolk was able to rebuild approximately one-fourth of a mile of pavement in just 24 days.

“Getting Highway 12 reopened has been a tremendous challenge," said Kevin Domogalla, NDOT District 3 Engineer. "We literally watched the canal bridge float down the river. Over the last several months, we worked every angle from design to construction to deliver a solution to get this highway reopened as soon and as safely as possible."

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