Colfax County commissioners accepted a more than $836,000 bid from a Lincoln contractor after expressing surprise at the amount of interest in the project to remove and rebuild a bridge southeast of Howells that collapsed into Maple Creek last spring.

The three-member board voted unanimously last week to award the $836,370 contract to Midwest Underground Inc. to replace the bridge on the heavily traveled Road 17 after waiting for months on a prior contractor hired to remove the bridge deck from the creekbed.

The contractor hired for only the deck removal was to be paid $34,000, but never showed up to do the work.

County roads officials said the bridge failed last spring because of severe soil erosion along the creek.

Midwest Underground plans to start the bridge removal and replacement project in early January and finish by early June.

The Lincoln contractor was selected from among six bidders, including: Dixon Construction Co. of Correctionville, Iowa, $882.709; JJK Construction of Lincoln, $905,040; JMN Construction LLC of Valley, $913,722; Simon Contractors of North Platte, $975,055; and Christensen Bros. Inc. of Cherokee, Iowa, $987,702.

Local roads officials have said the closed bridge poses significant public safety concerns and threatens to continue erosion damage to the creek’s banks and bed.

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