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Highway 57 work begins next week

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HARTINGTON — An orange diamond-shaped sign labeled “Road Work Ahead” can be inferred as a sure sign of spring. And it’s beginning to look a lot like springtime for the Hartington area.

Starting next week, road work will begin on about nine miles of Highway 57 starting at the Highway 84 junction south to the edge of Coleridge, said Bob Wiebelhaus, one of the project managers at the Nebraska Department of Transportation office in Hartington.

Werner Construction of Hastings is the main contractor for the $5.1 million project that will include repair work on seven bridges, extending a dozen culverts and nine miles of new asphalt.

The project is expected to wrap up in October, Wiebelhaus said.

Motorists can expect one-lane bridges with traffic signals at various spots along that section of Highway 57 throughout the project.

“Our plan right now is to leap frog . . . so that we don’t put too big of a burden on traffic to stop every mile,” Wiebelhaus said.

Even so, motorists can expect to tack on another 15-20 minutes due to construction delays during this time.

“From Hartington, if you don’t want to deal with it, you can always go east or west out of town,” he said. “There’s nothing going on those roads.”

Wiebelhaus wants to remind motorists that fines are doubled in work zones and to be mindful of safety during the construction season.

“Things to look out for - one-lane bridges, contractors, equipment and people, so no one is injured,” he said.

The repairs on Highway 57 won’t be the only highway work in Cedar County this summer. Extensive work is also planned for Highway 20 through Randolph.

The Randolph area will see road closures, detours and road crews starting this week as work begins on Highway 20.

The work is expected to last for months, officially wrapping up in spring 2023.

“There will be inconvenience during the project but with the accelerated schedule the contractor has adopted, this should be a much shorter duration than what was expected,” said Kevin Domogalla, Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) district engineer. “The contractor has put together a schedule that will have several operations running concurrently.”

Highway 20 improvements include pavement removal and replacement of the current roadbed within the city limits of Randolph, milling and resurfacing the roadway and new asphalt surfaced shoulders in the rural areas, concrete repairs, bridge repairs and replacement of the bridge over Middle Logan Creek east of Randolph.

New street lights along Highway 20 within Randolph were added as part of the project.

The $16.3 million project encompasses 10 miles, starting on the east side of Highway 20’s junction with Highway 81 and proceeding to 565 Avenue west of Belden.

The pavement replacement through Randolph will be accomplished in six phases, Domogalla said.

About one-third of the length will be reduced to one lane and controlled by temporary traffic signals. When that closed lane is completed, the contractor will move his closure down the road to replace the next one-third section, he said.

When completed for one lane of highway, Constructors Inc. of Lincoln - the contractor for the project, will drop back and start the same process on the other lane.

While these segments are closed, there are certain side streets that will need to be closed and traffic will need to use local detours.

Entrance and exit from Cardinal Express, will be controlled by traffic signal as those intersections around it are closed.

That accelerated schedule has the project starting a week earlier than expected with the majority of the work done this year, finishing up next spring. Originally, the project wasn’t expected to wrap up until fall of 2023.

The Highway 20 project through Randolph has been in the works for a number of years but was put on hold as NDOT realigned its focus to pavement preservation.

The pavement replacement through Randolph was determined to be the correct strategy and now the project gets underway this week, Domogalla said.

He asks drivers to be cautious and aware of works and equipment on or near the highway during the project. And he’s mindful of the stress put on residents and those traveling that section of highway.

“The end product will be worth the temporary inconveniences,” he said.