Nebraska Department of Transportation Announces Opening of Highway 281 Bridge South of Spencer
July 26, 2019 (Ainsworth, Neb.) — Today, the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) has
announced that Highway 281 over the Niobrara River south of Spencer is open to traffic. The
highway has been closed since March 13 due to flooding that caused significant damage and washed
out a segment of the highway just south of the bridge.
The NDOT partnered with contractors and subcontractors to open the temporary bridge and restore
mobility within months of the historic 2019 flooding. Olsson, of Lincoln, Nebraska, worked alongside
the NDOT on the design work of the project and on May 22, Hawkins Construction of Omaha was
awarded the $25,470,887 contract, which covers the temporary bridge and roadway as well as a
permanent 1,050-foot bridge over the Niobrara River Channel. Hawkins mobilized within hours and
with the help of subcontractors Acrow Corporation of America, of Parsippany, New Jersey,
temporary bridge construction; Kirkham Michael, of Omaha, Nebraska, construction engineering;
and Prouty Construction, of O'Neill, Nebraska, grading contractor, were able to open several days
ahead of the projected August 1 contract date.
“Today is about partnerships and community,” said NDOT Director Kyle Schneweis. “The 2019
flooding caused devastating damage to many of our Nebraska communities and the transportation
system took a large hit in the northeast part of the state. Opening the temporary bridge in under
five months took large-scale efforts from all involved and is really an accomplishment. I couldn't be more
proud of the work the NDOT has done with our partners to rebuild this road for the community.”
The temporary bridge will be open to one-lane traffic controlled by a traffic signal, with a 12-foot-wide
width restriction. Motorists with legal loads are permitted to cross the bridge, but no overweight or
over dimensional vehicles will be allowed. The traffic restriction will be in place until the permanent
bridge is completed, currently scheduled for November 2020.
Completion of the entire project is anticipated to be spring of 2021. Motorists are reminded to use
caution when driving through the construction zone and to wear seatbelts.
The NDOT thanks the community and all involved in the reconstruction for their patience, partnership,
effort, and dedication on completing repairs in an expedited time period.
To celebrate, Governor Pete Ricketts and the NDOT will be partnering with the local community and
KBRX radio station to host a Bridging the Gap Community Celebration on Monday, July 29, at 3:30 p.m.
recognizing those who helped make the project a reality.