- Associated Press - Saturday, October 10, 2015

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Douglas County will close a stretch of Old Lincoln Highway for the winter in an effort to protect the longest-remaining original brick stretch of the nation’s first transcontinental highway.

The county will seasonally ban traffic on the historic three-mile stretch of brick road that runs from 174th Street west to 201st Street, the Omaha World-Herald reported (https://bit.ly/1JZzQ3v ) Saturday.

Barricades will go up after the first snow deep enough to plow, Douglas County engineering manager Dan Kutilek said. It will then remain closed through March.

The Douglas County Board approved the plan, which calls for the historic highway, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, to be closed every winter.

Kutilek and Bill Green, assistant chief deputy in the Douglas County Engineer’s Office, proposed the seasonal closing because the road’s condition is deteriorating.

“It’s starting to show its age,” Kutilek said. “It’s a little over 100 years old now.”

Kutilek said the concrete base beneath the bricks is cracking, even crumbling to dust in places. That’s displacing the road’s brick surface and exposing the historic bricks to damage.

In the worst spots, crews repair the concrete and replace destroyed bricks, using a stash of Old Lincoln Highway bricks salvaged from elsewhere.

But they don’t want to comprehensively replace the concrete sub-base and then re-top it with bricks, because that would destroy the historic nature of the road.

Kutilek said salting, applying brine and plowing snow takes a heavy toll on the old road, eating away at its concrete base and chipping away at the bricks.

Predating America’s highway system created in 1926, the Lincoln Highway system was a private venture proposed in 1912 by several entrepreneurs tied to the fledgling automobile industry. The group named the highway for former president Abraham Lincoln.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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