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Community call to action for side bike path over Highway 75 bridge at the Platte River

Posted at 5:10 PM, Jun 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-12 19:33:52-04

The Highway 75 bridge over the Platte River is a longtime favorite of many bicycle riders, who make the commute from Plattsmouth to Bellevue.

Now,  a project,  widening Highway 75,  will turn the corridor into a freeway meaning biking over the bridge would be illegal.

Bicyclists and community leaders are banding together in an effort to add a side bike path to the Platte River crossing.

"A lot of times I'll go around here up to this point and then I'll stop near these barrels up here and then look backwards and wait for at least half a mile of cars and I'll just bust it as hard as I can to get across that bridge," said Joe Simoens, cyclist. 

Joe Simoens logs about 3,000 miles a season making the 20 mile ride across the Platte River to work. He's one of the many cyclists whose commute will be threatened once Highway 75 between Plattsmouth and Bellevue becomes a freeway.

"Plattsmouth is difficult. There's no safe route to get from here across the Platte River so typically I've got to pack my bike on the back of the car and drive to South Bellevue," said Brad Sorensen, cyclist. 

A community call to action would add a side bike path connecting both sides of the river to trail systems.Now - is the time for action while girders are being added during roadway widening.

"If they don't get it done here in the next year or two, before they open up for freeway, in proposed 2019, basically I don't see another option for at least 10 years before they might authorize closing a bridge in order to be able to put that side path on," said Simoens.

Preliminary costs are estimated at $3 million dollars. Local agencies would need to match 20 percent with federal dollars accounting for the rest. The Cass County portion would be about $40,000 dollars. So far, Plattsmouth Mayor Paul Lambert and several county commissioners are on board with the project. 

"I think it's a good example of cooperation where you've got multiple counties, multiple cities, MAPA, Papio NRD, are all working together to make sure we provide a good transportation resource for our residents," said Greg Youell, Executive Director of the Omaha - Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area Planning Agency. 

If you would like to get involved in the project, you can participate by writing a letter of support. They will be sent to the Cass County Commissioners who will soon be voting on whether to add funding. Letters can be sent to Janet McCartney at jmmccart@jagwireless.net.