How old is too old? People worried about bridge safety

COLUMBUS -- A bridge in Platte County is part of the National Register of Historic Places; but there are growing concerns it could be too old. It may be time for more than a fresh coat of paint. NCN viewers reached out to say they're nervous every time they go over the Loup River Bridge. One community leader who spoke on the condition of anonymity noted, if it's not fixed soon -  it could be due for disaster.

Driving over the Loup River Bridge you can see plenty of rust, but once you get out and go underneath; you can see actual holes in the infrastructure. We counted at least fifteen significant holes under the bridge. Also, the foundation shakes when large vehicles drive over it.

Built in 1933, the iconic design of the structure has undergone various repairs and even an additional bridge for opposing traffic in 1985. But now, the Nebraska Department of Transportation is starting to consider taking it down.

"The southbound structure has been there a long time [..] It's an aging bridge that will need work," said Kevin Domogalla of NDOT.

As district engineer, Domogolla said NDOT inspects bridges every two years. After their last inspection of the bridge two weeks ago, they met with Columbus city officials about the bridge's fate. They plan to set a date to start accepting opinions from the public on whether to repair the bridge or replace it.

"This wouldn't be any impact to taxpayers. This would come from our roads department funds," Domogalla said. While it won't be an added expense for people in Columbus, it could mean an added headache for drivers. The next closest crossings over the Platte River are about 20 minutes away.

Mayor James Bulkley said, ultimately, it will be up to experts to make the right choice.

"I'm not an engineer but [...] I am sure, given the bridge's condition, that it has many years to go, but it needs regular maintenance," he said.

Officials note if they can't repair the bridge - they'll look for a large enough place to retire it altogether.

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