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12th Avenue viaduct underway

December 20, 2018

Construction on the 12th Avenue viaduct is scheduled to take off in spring 2019.

The 18-month Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) project is expected to be bid out on Jan. 24, 2019. The overall cost is estimated at $9.5 million with 80 percent covered by federal and state tax dollars, 10 percent by Union Pacific and the remaining amount by the city pulling dollars from its general fund.

Columbus City Engineer Richard Bogus said a study was conducted several years ago to identify suitable locations throughout the city to construct viaducts. The survey identified three locations, which were Third, 18th and 12th avenues.

“They determined these were the best locations,” said Bogus, noting city officials received community support for the construction through overall votes gathered during previously held elections.

The Third Avenue viaduct officially opened for travel in late August. Despite that, Bogus said contractors are still finishing up several details like landscaping, seeding and sodding. Due to a shift in weather, Bogus said the viaduct will be completely done in spring 2019.

The 18th Avenue viaduct is a pedestrian overpass that is still in the final stages of being completed. Bogus said community members can expect the project to come to an end also by spring 2019.

The 12th Avenue project was one of the many reasons that prompted Loup Power District to announce its departure from its decades-old service center at 1350 12th Ave.

Because the viaduct is being built over a portion of the center’s land, Loup Public Power President and CEO Neal Suess expressed his intention to completely move his employees out of that location to its new service center currently being erected south of Lost Creek Parkway and east of Monastery Road before construction begins on the 12th Avenue project.

Although the viaducts are built in different locations, they all share the common purpose of providing community members a safer route or travel. Until the viaduct is completed, vehicles driving along 12th Avenue between 14th and 12th streets have to cross a railroad.

“Any crossing on the Union Pacific railroad has some risks to it,” Bogus said.

There were 22 reported crashes caused by trains in 2017 resulting in two fatalities and six injuries in Nebraska, according to the NDOT.

Another benefit of the 12th Avenue viaduct, Bogus said, is a reduction in train noise. Once a viaduct is completed and the active railroad crossing is removed, Bogus said trains passing through are not required to blow their horns.

Bogus said city officials submitted a request to eliminate the railroad crossing along the Third Avenue viaduct to make sure trains don’t blow their horns as they pass through that area, though specific dates of when that will happen are still uncertain.

He said city officials are also looking to construct a viaduct in the downtown area, as well, but the project won’t be taking off for quite some time.

“I think it stitches the community together,” he said of the 12th Avenue project.

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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