Beatrice West Court river bridge being fitted with new pedestrian rails

BEATRICE – Those old iron pedestrian rails on the sides of the West Court Street bridge in Beatrice are about to become a thing of the past.

City Street crew members have begun installing new, friendlier-looking rails this week, starting on the south side of the bridge, then switching to the north side.
"Really with something like this, this is a little bit out of our wheelhouse, so we've been planning on it for about two years. I would like to say its gonna take a little over two weeks to complete the whole thing, but I'm planning on a month."

Street Superintendent Jason Moore says crews got lucky in reducing one part of the job, through engineering.
"The bridge work itself had studs that were cemented into the deck, itself. So, we really didn't want to mess with the structure of the deck and so what we were able to do was...the engineers were able to leave the existing bracket that is bolted to the deck...and we will bolt our bridge rails onto the existing framework."

That removed the necessity of taking out some concrete. Street personnel are getting an assist from the water and electric departments in providing some of the equipment and helping with safety requirements.

"The electric department came out and the gentlemen who are working on the bridge deck itself have to have a fall harness. We anchored a cable all the way across the top of the bridge on the inside of the bridge rail. You have the pedestrian rail and then you have a bridge rail. All of the workers are anchoring themselves to the bridge rail. That way they can reach out to the pedestrian rail and if anything would ever happen, they can't go any further past it."

The City of Beatrice has waited some time to do the project, until enough funding was allocated to replace the railings on both sides of the bridge. The cost is about $135,000. In the future, Moore says there are plans to install similar new railings on the South Sixth River bridge.

Motorists are urged to be cautious traveling over the bridge just west of the downtown, as traffic space is reduced in half.