Unused pipeline supports will soon be removed from the Platte River near Fremont in an effort to prevent future ice jams.
The pipeline stanchions will be removed by Northern Natural Gas, and the project is expected to be finished in the next few weeks.
The stanchions and bridge piers held up previous pipelines over the river south of Fremont.
“You talk to some people, and they remember it being hung across above the Platte, but I think it’s got to be 20 years ago or more,” Fremont City Administrator Brian Newton said. “It’s been a long time.”
Although the two concrete stanchions are not in use, Newton said, they can still be seen protruding above the surface 6 feet below the riverbed.
“It used to be closer to the bank, but now with all of the flooding and the high waters we’ve had, the bank is cut out there and now they’re out in the river more,” he said.
After the state’s flooding in 2019 and an ice jam on the river, Newton said, the city started speculating as to whether the stanchions contributed to or caused the jams.
“A couple of people said, ‘Hey, listen, I airboat down there all the time,’” he said. “’Not only are those things dangerous, but we think it’s contributing to the ice jams.’”
Newton reached out about the city’s concerns to Northern, who responded earlier this year that it would remove the stanchions, as well as associated piling and piers, and stabilize some of the erosion on the north bank.
“It has nothing to do with the transportation of natural gases,” said Mike Loeffler, senior director of external affairs for Northern. “There’ll be no interruptions and it does not impact our pipeline delivery at all.”
Newton said he’s happy to see action being taken and hopes it will result in safer navigation on the river and removal of ice jams.
Newton said Northern has applied for a floodplain development permit and that the project will begin once it’s obtained.
“They got all the permits they need from the Army Corps of Engineers,” he said, “and I think ours is the last permit they need.”