- Associated Press - Saturday, October 14, 2017

PLATTSMOUTH, Neb. (AP) - Several governmental entities have teamed up to build a bike and walking path over the Platte River in Nebraska to keep a connection between two counties.

A number of bicycle commuters start in Cass County and ride to work in Sarpy County along the current Highway 34/75 Platte River bridge. But that route will soon become illegal, the Omaha World-Herald reported .

Highway 34/75 is widening into a freeway. State law prohibits bike and pedestrian traffic on freeways.

The new path along the bridge will be short but will preserve a significant link between the two counties and the rest of the metro area. The path will extend from Bellevue, over the river and in to Plattsmouth.

The Nebraska Department of Transportation will construct girders to support the path along the bridge as part of the highway project. In return, the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area Planning Agency will give half the cost of the girders - about $700,000 - to a state transportation project in the future.

The first phase is estimated to cost $1.4 million and begin next year. Phase two is estimated to take three to five years and cost $2 million, with 80 percent of the cost covered by federal funding. The remaining 20 percent would be provided by Bellevue and Plattsmouth, Sarpy and Cass counties, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District and the Lower Platte South Natural Resources District.

Julie Harris, executive director of Nebraska Bicycling Alliance, said the bridge construction provides a rare opportunity to establish a bike path. She said the path could fit into future trail networks and will be safer for bicycle commuters.

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

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