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Nebraska 15 bridge

Closed since floodwaters ravaged a stretch of the highway in mid-March, Nebraska 15 is again open to traffic south of Schuyler.

SCHUYLER — Parkview One Stop was a happening place Monday morning.

Hundreds of people came in and out of the convenience store over the course of several hours to fill up their tanks, buy a soda, a cup of coffee, or, in some cases, sit down at a table, relax and catch up with friends.

Chad Langemeier, a co-owner and manager, was taking it all in, smiling as he spent time chit-chatting with and helping practically every customer who came inside. For him, it was the ultimate anniversary gift.

Parkview One Stop, owned by Langemeier and his parents, Lisa and John, celebrated its six-year anniversary in Schuyler on June 1. But making the weekend even sweeter was the reopening of Nebraska 15, just south of town.

The thoroughfare that connects Colfax and Butler counties was ravaged in March’s historic flooding. So when it opened May 31 for the first time in almost two months, it was like a holiday for those at Parkview, in the community and region.

“You get to see people you haven’t seen in two months,” Langemeier said. 

The highway’s closure cut off access to Schuyler from communities to the south. As a result, what were once commutes of just a few minutes from northern parts of Butler County to Schuyler turned into journeys that lasted well more than an hour as people had to find alternative routes going through Columbus and North Bend.

Colfax County Highway Superintendent Mark Arps said that the highway’s closure had a negative effect on not only Parkview and its customers, but many area teachers, businessmen and farmers, as well as the cattle haulers and truck drivers for various businesses. All of these people had to travel miles out of the way.

“The economics of it is big,” Arps said of the highway’s reopening, noting portions of the road had holes in it and several inches of water had to be drained along sections in Colfax County.

Langemeier said the mid-March flood came out of nowhere.

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His business, located just across the road from the historic Oak Ballroom, remained open to provide a place for flood victims to use the bathroom, have a sandwich or simply relax. 

M.E. Collins Contracting handled highway repairs for the Nebraska Department of Transportation. The bridge reopened to one-lane traffic controlled by temporary traffic signals. Work will continue until all of the flood damage has been fixed.

Colfax County Sheriff Paul Kruse said the highway reopened at about 5 p.m., but people began showing up closer to 4, saying they would rather wait than have to travel through North Bend or Columbus to get to their destination.

“I’m glad we’ve got that open again,” Kruse said.

State Sen. Bruce Bostelman, who represents District 23, which includes Colfax and Butler counties, was instrumental in making the highway’s repair a priority, according to local officials.

“It’s something we really needed to get done and I’m glad they were able to do it,” Bostelman said of repair efforts, stressing the great job done by construction workers, as well as county and state employees.

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