LINCOLN — The last roadway washed out by the epic flooding in 2019 has reopened.
Gov. Pete Ricketts joined other officials on Thursday to mark the milestone and celebrate the completion of a bridge on U.S. Highway 281 that spans the new channel of the Niobrara River, south of Spencer.
A huge section of the highway was washed out when the Spencer Dam, just upriver, collapsed on the night of March 13-14, 2019. The river cut a new channel, requiring a second, 1,050-foot-long bridge to be built below the dam.
The new span was finished on Oct. 15 — 580 days after the floods — replacing a temporary bridge that had been in place since July 2019. A 127-mile detour had been required to cross the river before the installation of the temporary, one-lane bridge.
“The speed of rebuilding is a true testament to the commitment and dedication of the community, the Nebraska Department of Transportation and everyone who contributed to get us here,” Ricketts said during the ceremony on the new bridge.
Flooding in March 2019 closed 3,300 miles of the state highway system and required replacement or major work on more than 27 bridges and 200 miles of pavement.
The total damage to the state highway system was about $150 million, according to Jeni Campana, a spokeswoman for the department.
The Spencer bridge project cost $25.5 million. Hawkins Construction was the lead contractor, and Olsson worked to expedite the design of the new bridge.
One man who lived just below the dam, Kenny Angel, was killed when the 92-year-old structure collapsed. His body was never found.
Photos: Nebraska flooding viewed from above
The Elkhorn River at the Maple Street bridge is shown under water Monday March 18, 2019.
Floodwaters from the Elkhorn River have gone down and now expose a heavily damaged West Dodge Road.
Floodwaters from the Elkhorn River have started to recede, exposing a heavily damaged West Dodge Road.
The eastbound lanes of West Dodge Road just west of 228th Street show the damage done after floodwaters went down Monday.
A cow makes its way through floodwaters near Columbus, Nebraska, on Friday.
A shell of the Spencer dam is left on the Niobrara River.
Floodwaters engulf a farm near Missouri Valley on Friday.
Floodwaters flow over a railroad bridge near Arlington, Nebraska, on Friday.
Floodwaters make their way into North Bend, Nebraska, on Friday.
The Elkhorn River encroaches on Waterloo on Sunday.
A portion of Highway 92 has been destroyed by floodwaters in western Douglas County.
The Elkhorn River has covered several parts of western Douglas County.
A levee breach is shown on the Platte River near Ashland on Sunday.
Valley is shown inundated by floodwaters on Sunday.
An aerial view of Missouri Valley near the Interstate 29 exit on March 15.
An aerial view of Missouri Valley as floodwaters continue to impact the area on Friday.
A house is surrounded by floodwaters near Waterloo, Nebraska, on Friday.
Floodwaters envelop King Lake, Nebraska, on Friday.
Floodwaters swallow the town of Rogers, Nebraska, on Friday.
Water recedes in the town of Niobrara Neb. The highway showing is Hwy 12 and Hwy 14 Junction.
The Morman bridge on Highway 12 between Niobrara and Niobrara State Park was wiped out by a flood.
A train is stopped on flooded tracks next to the Platte River near Cedar Creek, Nebraska, on Friday.
Highway 75's northbound lane is closed because of flooding near Merritt's Beach RV Park on Friday.
A Nebraska National Guard helicopter flies over areas flooded by the Platte River near Columbus, Nebraska, on Friday.
Highway 81 covered in floodwaters south of Columbus, Nebraska, on Friday.
A Nebraska National Guard helicopter flies over flooded Waterloo on Friday.
Cars drive drive across a flooded Platte River on Highway 50 just north of Louisville.
Water covers a road near Valley, Nebraska.
A westward, aerial view of a flooded Tom Hanafan River's Edge Park on Friday.
An aerial view of Missouri Valley, Iowa, as floodwaters continue to impact the area on Friday.
The National Weather Service in Valley, Nebraska was evacuated due to flooding.
A truck drives through a flooded road near the Platte River.
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