Viaduct petition nears signature requirement

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The petition to stop the city from tearing down the old 16th Street viaduct is close to moving forward.

The petition to stop the city from tearing down the old 16th Street viaduct has more than 2,000 signatures. (Source: Kelsey Dickeson, KSNB)

Forms are stacking up as more and more residents sign the petition to reverse the city council's decision to demolish the overpass.

Alton Jackson, one of three chief petitioners, said they have more than 2,000 signatures so far: They need close to 2,200 to get the referendum on the May ballot.

"I think it makes our town a safer town to lighten that traffic on Burlington. And it's more convenient. There's some new construction going on in that neighborhood, and I'd like to see it so we have better traffic flow," Jackson said.

The viaduct has been closed since the end of May after it was declared a threat to public safety.

The city council voted 6-2 to demolish the bridge in December. It'll cost the city $1.5 million, which is a little less than half of what it'd cost them to repair it.

Olsson Associates evaluated the bridge before the city council made their decision.

Their report states the bridge is tearing itself apart. Concrete is falling from the columns. The rebar is exposed and corroded. The joints have completely locked up, and need to be replaced.

But Jackson said he feels repairing the bridge is still the best option, and doubts some of the cost estimates.

"They won't get it torn down for $1.5 million, we don't believe, because of train interruption. Other things, say they have to deal with the property underneath. There are unknowns. It's there. It's convenient, and we'd like to see it saved," Jackson said.

He said they're hoping to get 4,000 signatures total, and will continue collecting them for a few more weeks.