The idea of replacing Neligh's memorialized swinging bridge is one step closer to reality.
At Tuesday's City Council meeting, members voted unanimously to authorize City Attorney Jim McNally to make application with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and to consult with the city engineer to prepare a sketch for a bridge between Riverside Park and Russell Park.
The swinging bridge fell victim to ravaging flood waters in June 2010 when the Elkhorn River overcame its banks. The landmark was erected by Byron Fuller in 1935 and stood in place for 75 years. A marker was constructed in Riverside Park in late June in honor of the bridge's legacy.
The City of Neligh received a FEMA project work order for replacement of the swinging bridge following the flood. However, due to time restraints brought on by other flood-related projects in the area, the City of Neligh was forced to use the FEMA funds for an alternate project involving the city water mains or risk losing all funding.
The future of a replacement bridge has remained uncertain since. The City Council has not approved replacing the bridge, simply making application and consulting on the sketch, which is the first step.
At Tuesday's meeting, McNally told the City Council that if less than one half of an acre of land is disturbed during the project, only a sketch of the bridge will be needed for approval. That eliminates the cost of a water study, engineer study and engineer-planned specifications.
McNally said the bridge needs to be 4 feet wide to be ADA compliant, as well as have 4-foot ramp at both sides of the bank that runs parallel to the river to account for the gradual increase to get up to the bridge.
When asked about funding for the bridge, McNally said he believed both the labor and materials would be either donated or paid via donations.
“The swinging bridge was a fixture in the City of Neligh,” McNally said. “It made Neligh unique, like the drive-in and mill. It was a great loss when we lost it in the flood.”
From the audience, Steph Wanek suggested using the website www.gofundme.com to solicit online donations from residents, former residents and Neligh-Oakdale alumni.
City Clerk Dana Klabenes said this project began with the city park board, who requested the city attorney research the swinging bridge project and approved advancing it to the city council.
"We want to explore this opportunity to bring the swinging bridge back to Neligh," Klabenes said.
It will not be known until after a sketch is complete and an application made with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers how much funding will be needed for the project.
Klabenes began the city council meeting by announcing all of Neligh's FEMA projects have been closed. Neligh has received the final funds for reimbursement of the projects from June 2010 flood.