Several City of Neligh officials testified Wednesday in front of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee, requesting funding to stabilize the south bank of the Mill Bridge.
Mayor Joe Hartz and city attorney Jim McNally, along with former mayor Jeri Anderson and former superintendent Lyle Juracek testified, during the Nebraska State Historical Society’s hearing. Neligh's Mill Bridge is on Historical Society land, so any funds used to stabilize the bank would have to come from the state.
“They need appropriations for their funding, so we requested help for completion of our project up here that entails their land,” Hartz said.
Officials are requesting rip rap along the Elkhorn River. The south bank will need to be cleaned up and then have broken concrete spread along the side to support it. Behind the south bank that needs work, Hartz said, is the dike and old lake that was put in to help with flooding and water for the mill.
Hartz said $90,000 was requested, which is a small part of the Historical Society’s overall request, but very important to the City of Neligh. If the funds aren’t appropriated, the project will remain on hold until funds are made available by the state.
Hartz said the project would secure the bank to protect the road and bridge in a future flood.
The bridge reopened in November thanks to a $650,000 donation from a anonymous source to extend the bridge past the south bank. The bridge had been unaccessible since the 2010 flooding of the Elkhorn River.
“It’s important to not lose our bridge again. That’s a valuable asset lost because (in the 2010 flood) we lost our second connection to southern Antelope County,” Hartz said. “If the highway bridge is gone, they have to come five or 10 miles on either side to have access to our town, so it’s a valuable asset for people getting to the hospital, services and other things in Neligh.”
Hartz said that with stabilizing the bank, the bridge could be in service for a couple hundred more years - pending Mother Nature, of course.
“The Historical Society has done a great job trying to help us with things we can pass on to other generations,” Hartz said.