Bellevue Bridge Study Open House

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For decades the Bellevue Toll Bridge has been a vital link between Nebraska and Iowa south of the metro. But the future of this 69-year-old bridge is now uncertain because of changing traffic patterns.

The Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) and the Bellevue Bridge Commission are trying to determine what’s next for this iconic Missouri River crossing and they need your input. They’re hosting an open house on Monday, February 25 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Bellevue City Hall Council Chambers to show and discuss various options for the bridge.

good bridge pix

“During the past four years traffic patterns have undergone a dramatic shift with the completion of the Highway 34 Bridge across the Missouri River,” said Court Barber, MAPA Associate Transportation Planner.¬† Before the Highway 34 Bridge opened in 2014, nearly 1.4 million vehicles a year crossed the Bellevue Toll Bridge. But in 2015 the number of vehicles using the Bellevue Toll Bridge plummeted to just 750,000. Since then, it’s leveled off to nearly 600,000 vehicles per year.

The Bellevue Bridge Commission collects a one-dollar toll from every vehicle crossing the bridge. That money pays for bridge maintenance. But by 2040 the upkeep costs will exceed the money raised from tolls. “So the bridge commission reached out to MAPA and asked us to take a look at the next step,” said Barber.

MAPA hired the engineering consulting firm of Felsburg, Holt & Ullevig (FHU) to study the best options for the bridge. Originally they had five proposals but have narrowed it down to three.

Option 1: Tear it down. Estimated cost: $8.5 million. Toll funds would help to pay for the demolition.

Option 2: Build a new bridge. Estimated cost: $62 million. Funding would come from a grant or federal funds. It also includes a dedicated lane for cyclists and pedestrians.

Option 3: Convert the bridge to a recreational trail.  Estimated cost: $6.7 million. Toll funds would be used to pay for the conversion.

“These options aren’t set in stone. The best choice may be a combination of these three, or we could decide to do nothing.¬† But again, after 2040 the bridge will be at the end of its lifespan, which is why we need to know what the public wants,” said Barber.

The open house is Monday, February 25 from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Bellevue City Hall Council Chambers, 1500 Wall Street, Bellevue.