City of Lincoln
2005 Media Releases
Mayor Coleen J. Seng announced today that following an extensive public opinion process, the aging Harris Overpass will close for reconstruction in 2007 for about one year. Total closure of the overpass will save about $5 million in construction costs and reduce construction time by about half, compared to an alternative option to have limited traffic during a two-year construction period.
Deteriorating steel girders and concrete have created the need to replace the 50-year-old overpass, which carries “O” Street traffic over the rail yards from 3rd to 9th streets. Construction costs for the bridge are estimated at about $15 million. Construction costs over a two-year period were estimated at about $20 million.
“There is no ideal solution,” said Mayor Seng. “Partial closure would have cost more, taken longer and still resulted in at least 55 days of full closure. This is a vital link between West “O” and downtown Lincoln. Nearly 27,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day. The consensus was that the construction be done as quickly as possible.”
Mayor Seng thanked those who participated in the decision-making process for this important project. The City hired The Schemmer Associates to conduct the public outreach program to discuss the options and consequences of the construction options. The firm worked directly with the affected businesses and residents and assembled an advisory group of those most directly affected by the bridge construction to examine the options.
“Many factors went into this decision and many people who will be most inconvenienced by the construction provided advice,” said Mayor Seng. “Cost was a major consideration because construction funds are very tight. Other important factors were the provision of police and fire services, the impact on West “O” and Haymarket businesses and public safety during the construction.”
Proposed vehicle detour routes are:
Currently about $15 million is available from non-City sources, including the Federal Highway Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacement Program, which is administered locally by the Nebraska Department of Roads and the Railroad Transportation Safety District. Cost estimates may vary as final structural and aesthetic features are chosen with public input. The next step is to complete the design and bid the project.
“Funds are tight, we are stretching them to get the most from every dollar,” said Karl Fredrickson, Director of the City Public Works and Utilities Department. “Construction is inconvenient, but announcing the decision now will provide time for residents to plan ahead. The one-year construction period will save money. We will provide incentives and penalty clauses in the contract to expedite the construction schedule.”
The viaduct was completed in 1955 and is named in honor of John F. Harris, who donated the land for Pioneers Park.
Additional information on the Harris Overpass project is available on the City Web site at lincoln.ne.gov or at harrisoverpass.com.