After months of work, this bridge connecting Iowa and Nebraska is opening.

After months of work, this bridge connecting Iowa and Nebraska is opening.

A new bridge is opening today connecting southwest Iowa and southeast Nebraska. Officials say completion of the project not only eases travel for motorists but will encourage economic development between the states for years to come.

Scott Nixon, a construction engineer with the Iowa Department of Transportation, says it’s been a lengthy, expensive venture. “The total project with Nebraska costs and Iowa costs combined is about $115 million,” Nixon says. “The bridge itself was 61 million.”

Construction began in January of 2012 so it’s been just two months shy of three years to complete. The new route includes about 7 miles of newly-constructed 4-lane divided highway extending west of the U.S. Highway 34 interchange with Interstate 29 near Glenwood, Iowa, to U.S. Highway 75 between Plattsmouth and Bellevue, Nebraska.

The Nebraska Department of Roads completed the work on its side last year. The new bridge over the Missouri River includes a 500-foot steel section that spans the waterway. “Nebraska is paying for a portion of the bridge and Iowa is paying for a portion,” Nixon says. “It’s not a 50-50 split because there’s more bridge on the Iowa side than the Nebraska side.”

The bridge sits on 17 concrete and steel piers. “It was a challenge working in the river,” Nixon says. “The contractor started working on the river in early ’12 and they were still working in late 2013. It was over a year to get the river piers up.”

Estimates show the bridge will initially carry 2,000 vehicles a day, ramping up to 11,000 vehicles a day in the years to come. The bridge is expected to open around 3 P.M.

Photo courtesy of Nebraska Department of Roads.