County Bridge Match Program Launched in Broken Bow (AUDIO)

Gov. Pete Ricketts explains the County Bridge Match Program.

NDOR Director Kyle Schneweis talks about the process of starting the program.

Custer County Highway Superintendent Chris Jacobsen discusses the project.

BROKEN BOW - Governor Pete Ricketts, Nebraska Department of Roads Director Kyle Schneweis and local officials held a press conference at the Custer County Courthouse in Broken Bow on Tuesday, June 13 to launch the states County Bridge Match Program.

The program was created through the Transportation Innovation Act to accelerate the repair and replacement of county bridges.

Gov. Ricketts explains the County Bridge Match Program.

"The County Bridge Match Program had 40 million dollars dedicated to it. Now the idea with this County Bridge Match Program is to really encourage investments by making dollars available, but also importantly, innovation. So we have a grant process, we have a County Bridge Match working group who will look at different grant proposals with scoring highly on innovation," Ricketts said. "Looking at ways that county engineers can really use their engineering background to be able to craft solutions, to be able to address the aging or deficient bridges we have in our state, to be able to make those dollars stretch farther. So they're going to stretch farther with the help of the state, but also stretch farther because we're using innovative techniques to be able to repair those bridges."

NDOR Director Schneweis talks about the process about bringing the program to fruition.

"The accomplishment to get here today, we are just over a year removed from signing legislation. And here we are getting ready to break ground on a bridge. We went from words on a page to now, turning dirt on a bridge in just over a year. Designing an entire program from scratch, selecting the projects. Counties have to send them in, going through the agreement process, all of this takes time and here we are ready to build a bridge. It's an amazing achievement," Schneweis said. "Governor, you talked about innovation. It's a key part of this. We don't want to just build bridges. We want to make smart decisions and be able to do innovative things so we can cover more ground, and we're gonna do that. This particular project, we're replacing a bridge with two pipes. It's gonna 80 years, very little maintenance. And we're gonna do this all over the state. This is the first one, the first of 68 this year that we're gonna do, and we're not gonna stop. We're gonna keep going."

The first bridge to receive funding from the program is in Custer County, located two miles southeast of Broken Bow and south of Highway 2, just off of Drive 441. The 25-foot timber bridge will be replaced with two 84-inch round equivalent culvert pipes. In addition, headwalls and wing walls will be constructed.

Custer County Highway Superintendent Chris Jacobsen discusses the project.

"This was one of those structures to give Custer County the opportunity to develop the roadway in and around the southwest part of Broken Bow," Jacobsen said. "Because as it is right now, it has a nine ton restriction, which was deviating a lot of traffic coming up 21 in through town. If we can improve the road in the future, the bridge will not be an obstacle at that point. The other selling point in the incentive part of this package was the point that it was built with County forces."

The Custer County bridge is the first of 68 projects that have received approval through the County Bridge Match Program.

Photo courtesy Gov. Ricketts' Office