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City Hall: $3.3M in unanticipated money to help county reopen closed bridges
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City Hall: $3.3M in unanticipated money to help county reopen closed bridges

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Unanticipated federal reimbursements for damage caused by flooding in 2015 and 2019 will help fund work to reopen four closed Lancaster County bridges, county officials said Tuesday.

Lancaster County Board members approved the transfer of $3.3 million into County Engineer Pam Dingman's budget for the year, which includes $1.7 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency and Federal Highway Administration funds. 

County Budget Director Dennis Meyer said the remaining $1.6 million will draw from funds reserved in the year's budget.

Reimbursement funds like these can't always be counted on when budgets are crafted, Meyer said. 

The funds would cover box culvert transformations for three closed bridges in the southeast part of the county, a closed bridge in the western part of the county and a stretch of open but beaten-up bridges just north of Lincoln along 14th Street, Dingman said. 

These funds also will help pay for the paving of a stretch of South 82nd Street, which is being graded and could be completed in six weeks.

Dingman told the commissioners she hopes to have the North 14th Street projects done by year's end.

For some of the projects, contractors could work through the winter if weather allows.

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Last winter, county contractors completed three box culverts, she said.

“I don’t know if I can get lucky every winter like that, but I’m hoping to get lucky again this winter,” Dingman said.

Tests for young protesters

State health officials on Tuesday expanded testing eligibility to all age groups in Lancaster County for Test Nebraska, which can allow protesters of all ages involved in the recent George Floyd demonstrations to get screened for coronavirus. 

In Douglas and Sarpy counties, people ages 15 to 35 can now schedule an appointment though Test Nebraska. 

A Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman recently confirmed to the Omaha World-Herald that the protests spurred the change. 

Pat Lopez, interim director of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, stressed the importance of tests for those who gathered among large crowds. 

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"We thought some of the people who have been at mass gatherings may want to get tested, and we didn't want that to be a barrier for them to access that," Lopez said.

Those seeking a test must still go to TestNebraska.com and complete an assessment to schedule a test.

Fast takes

$94,775 — Funds granted to six local nonprofits in the latest round of distributions from the Lincoln Community Foundation's COVID-19 Response Fund. The organizations are Community Crops, Down Syndrome Association for Families of Nebraska, El Centro de las Americas, Nebraska Lawyers Foundation/Volunteer Lawyers Project, Mourning Hope Grief Center and Youth for Christ-Parent Life, Campus Life and Juvenile Justice. 

420,000 — Pieces of personal protective equipment the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department has distributed to hospitals, clinics and organizations serving people vulnerable to the coronavirus.

1,200 — Calls from local businesses and organizations to the Health Department seeking guidance on how their events can comply with directed health measures, Lopez said.

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1 year — The proposed time frame for the city's electric scooter program, which had its launch delayed indefinitely amid the pandemic. The ordinance originally passed by Lincoln's City Council had the pilot program for scooters in downtown Lincoln wrapping up on Jan. 1. The proposed amendment would give the city's three vendors one year from a new determined launch date to operate their scooters.

Aug. 31 — The end date for the relaxed outdoor dining regulations implemented by Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird to help restaurants expand their capacities during the pandemic.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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