Hastings viaduct may be too damaged to repair

"I don't believe this bridge is repairable," a consultant told the Hastings City Council on Monday.
Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 9:40 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - It’s been more than a year of trying to decide the future of the 16th Street viaduct in Hastings. The City Council originally had voted to tear down the bridge, but after nearly 3,000 residents signed a petition to prevent that they decided to put it to a vote on the November ballot.

During a City Council meeting on Monday, two consultants with Engineering Specialists Incorporated of Omaha presented their findings of a forensic examination of the bridge.

“I don’t believe this bridge is repairable due to the extent of deterioration and unknown conditions of the temper piles,” one said following their presentation.

“That bridge is 85 years old,” the other consultant added. “It has been partially renovated for the super structure, the upper part of the bridge. Maybe three of the piers were cosmetically repaired, not extensive repairs and no reinforcing was replaced.”

Both said the bridge may be far too damaged to repair safely, especially since there’s no way to see the base of the bridge which is about 70 feet underground.

“The critical element here is below the surface,” he added. “We can’t really see below grade and to rebuild a structure on a pile that is unknown and has shown some evidence of deterioration and damage is a critical issue.”

If the city does decide to move forward with renovations, the cost of repair has gone up significantly. They were originally looking at about $3.5 million, but that price tag is now up to more than $7 million.

“This would be a taxpayer-funded project,” Hastings Mayor Corey Stutte said. “I would hate to see people raise taxes. I am against raising taxes so if this moves forward it’ll be up to the taxpayers to make the decision if we do put that on the ballot.”

Mayor Stutte says the next step would be to get together with people who signed the petition in March and decide if they want to move forward with adding it to the ballot. That decision and paperwork needs to be completed by the start of September.

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