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After more than a decade, the East 29th Avenue viaduct is inching closer to existence.

Kyle Anderson, executive vice president of Felsburg, Holt & Ullevig, gave the Platte County Board of Supervisors an update on the project at its meeting on Tuesday. The project consists of building a three-lane bridge to span the Union Pacific Railroad tracks between U.S. Highway 30 and East Eighth Street.

Anderson said the final designs will wrap up sometime this spring. At the moment, the project is estimated to cost a total of $12.7 million. As it stands right now, Union Pacific will fund $1.1 million and the Nebraska Department of Transportation about $11 million of the project. The remaining $680,00, about 5 percent, is planned to be picked up by the county.

Anderson elicited feedback from the board on the project. As there should be a more finalized estimate for the project in May, the board agreed to revisit voting to approve the final cost that the county will pay at a later date.

“It was about what I expected,” Anderson said about the board's decision. “The county has done a great a job of trying to keep the cost down on the project and still give all the businesses along that stretch of East 29th the access they need to keep running their businesses, both during the project and when construction is complete. I think it’s going to be a tremendous improvement."

District 1 Supervisor Fred Liss served as the county’s highway superintendent when research for the project first began back in 2007. He said Anderson's presentation was informative and important for the board to hear.

“This is a rather larger project. And as these things progress normally, especially on federal aid projects, things can get pretty confusing," he said. "So I think there was some misunderstanding, a little bit of confusion, among the board members on what exactly was going on. So Kyle coming in and explaining it to us was paramount in my mind.”

The 29th Avenue viaduct comes after the Third Avenue viaduct opened back in August 2018, and as plans continue for another on 12th Avenue.

The viaduct wasn't all that was discussed, though. Several board-standing committees have been merged together, downsizing from 10 to six. The committees are limited to three supervisors each and are intended to discuss topics and make recommendations to the board as a whole. They cannot make any decisions of their own.

Now each supervisor, excluding board chairman and District 6 Supervisor Jerry Engdahl, will be the chairman of a single committee. Engdahl said this will help to make things more efficient.

“Of those 10 committees, for years, several of them have not met more than maybe once a year,” Engdahl said. “(Now) each supervisor has one committee they can focus on now. In the long run, it will be better.”

The board unanimously voted to approve the following changes:

* The Judicial and Jail Committee and Burial/Poor and Unemployment Committee have been merged into the General Committee.

* The Drainage Committee and Weed District Board have been merged into the Road and Bridge Committee.

* The City and County Committee has been renamed to the Partners Committee, but otherwise maintains the same responsibilities, as do the Personnel Committee and Finance Committee.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News-Review.

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