COLUMBUS, Neb. — A city in eastern Nebraska is selling nearly 20 homes that buyers will have to move to make way for a planned viaduct project.

Columbus had to acquire all or part of nearly 50 properties for the $13 million viaduct that will stretch through several streets, the Columbus Telegram reported .

Among those properties are 18 houses the city is selling during a surplus auction on Nov. 5. Buyers must move the homes out of the viaduct’s path by May or else the homes will be demolished.

Columbus decided to sell the houses instead of demolishing them because the city’s housing supply is low, said Rick Bogus, engineer for the city.

“We want to at least provide an opportunity” for people to move the houses, he said.

City Finance Director Anne Kinnison doesn’t expect the auction to net a large amount of money because of how expensive it is to move a house. The city has spent $3.4 million so far to acquire properties for the viaduct, including the purchase prices, relocation assistance for property owners, a $363,000 contract with Midwest Right of Way Services and some utility expenses.

Kinnison said the 18 houses will be sold as modest-sized, older homes. She said it’s likely some of the homes can’t be moved.

“They have kind of limited value,” she said. “But obviously we want to maximize what we can.”

Proceeds from the auction will go toward reducing the amount of local sales tax revenue needed to pay for the city’s share of the viaduct project. Columbus is responsible for about 10 percent of the project’s costs, with federal funding covering about 80 percent and Union Pacific Railroad paying the remainder.

The project is expected to be bid by the Nebraska Department of Transportation next fall with construction slated for 2019 and 2020.


Information from: Columbus Telegram, http://www.columbustelegram.com

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