BEATRICE - An unimproved road that lines part of the Big Blue River in west Beatrice will be closed and vacated. The Beatrice City Council has voted 7-0 to close a part of Veterans Memorial Drive, which City Administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer says has frequently been damaged by river flooding over the years.
"We've had some issues with that stretch over the last several years, obviously, due to the flooding. It's pretty rutted and sandy, and so we are proposing closing that area and barricading traffic from moving further south." Tempelmeyer said people can still park in an area of concrete near the bridge...and if a river access is eventually built in that area, some other parking areas could be added.
Mayor Stan Wirth says the section of drive along the bank of the river has also periodically been damaged by use of four-wheelers and other vehicles.
Years ago, the road’s existence was a controversial topic before city officials when two councilmembers wanted to redevelop Veterans Memorial Drive. It is one of the first areas that floods in Beatrice along the Big Blue. The area later became the location of part of the city’s recreational trail system, named Veterans Memorial Trail.
A paved section of Veterans Memorial Drive in south Beatrice now serves as the access to Veterans Memorial Park…which honors Gage County armed services members including those who fought during wartime from the various military branches.
The road being closed extends from a concrete paved parking area near the West Court bridge, south to a small turnaround that has served as a fishing access to the Big Blue River. In recent months, the city has barricaded the road because of its condition.