After nearly five months, drivers can get across the Niobrara River again.

The Nebraska DOT hosted a ceremony Tuesday to celebrate the opening of the Highway 12 bridge over the Niobrara River. Residents like Chris Kreycik have to cross the river to get from her ranch into town. She’s thankful to not have a lengthy detour anymore.

"We went from going 10 miles to get into town, we had to go 40 miles," Kreycik said. "At first, we weren't able to go across the Pischelville bridge until it was fixed, so it was 110 miles to get to Niobrara going around through South Dakota. It was a long ways around so we're thankful for the bridge today."

Nebraska DOT director Kyle Schneweis said the circumstances of those like Kreycik motivated construction crews to get the temporary bridge open.

"I talked to one farmer who was living in a camper on [the west] side of the bridge because his house was on the other side," Schneweis said. "And so those types of impacts to people, we know how real they were and we're just so thrilled to get the bridge open so people can wait five minutes instead of an hour."  

Despite the celebration, Schneweis knows this solution is temporary. He said it's nice to mark the accomplishment, but there’s still work to be done.

'Today, they're excited about the one-lane and temporary [bridge] and we are too, but we can't stop," Schneweis said. "We know that to really restore full access we need to get large loads across this bridge. We need to get oversized loads across to support the agricultural economy and those kinds of things."

As for Kreycik, she’s grateful for those crews that put in the hours to make traversing the river possible again.

"I commend them because I know they worked on holidays and they worked clear into the night," Kreycik said. "Most people would not do that."

The temporary bridge opened on August 10th - almost a week ahead of schedule. Schneweis says crews will work through the winter to open the permanent bridge by Summer 2020.