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County seeks federal aid 100 years after river channelization widens inland channels

Posted on December 10, 2023

NEBRASKA City –  Otoe County commissioners are reaching out to congressional representatives hoping for federal solutions to stream and river degradation they link to a deeper running Missouri River.

The government widened the navigation channel of the Missouri River to 200 feet about 100 years ago and began dredging a deep-water channel to accommodate navigation. The modifications were able to cut nearly 200 river miles, but the deeper Missouri River channel means the streams and waterways that serve it also deepen over time.

Highway Superintendent Jon Brinkman said the process was a factor in half of the seven bridges the county replaced in the past year and is a threat to most of the 300 bridges under the county’s responsibility.

Brinkman: “As the channels drop in elevation the tops of the channels widen, what we run into is our bridge structures become too short because the top of the channel is widening out.”

County commissioners signed a letter to Sen. Pete Ricketts saying the county does not have the resources to deal with other 100 bridges that are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete and saying it is impossible to replace all the bridges as a method of countering stream degradation caused by the deeper Missouri River.

Brinkman said all of the county’s adjacent to the Missouri River are experiencing the same degradation.
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