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Drivers line up for toll-free trip over bridge

Motorists lined up Saturday night to be among the first to make the free drive across the bridge, which links Iowa and Nebraska, the Sioux City Journal reported.

The Associated Press

12/2/2013

DECATUR, Neb. — The end of tolls at the Missouri River bridge in Decatur, Neb., will mean savings for motorists, but the change also brings a loss of part-time work for toll-takers and some payments to charities.

Motorists lined up Saturday night to be among the first to make the free drive across the bridge, which links Iowa and Nebraska, the Sioux City Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1isDThj ).

"Almost everybody's happy except for a few toll-takers that are out of a job," said John Maryott, a member of the Burt County Bridge Commission, which turned over ownership of the span to the two states.

Since the bridge opened in 1955, tolls have funded maintenance, but those payments now will come from tax dollars.

Maryott said motorists who use the bridge frequently will save about $100 a month, and trucking companies will save thousands. About 2,000 motorists cross the bridge each day. The passenger vehicle fee was $1.

The change will leave 14 part-time toll-takers out of work, Maryott said.

"That's the worst part about the whole deal," he said. "There's a lot of people, that's good supplemental income."

The organization also will end charity donations it had made for years. Among the beneficiaries were Decatur's volunteer fire department, which received help buying costly vehicles.

Plans call for the toll booth to be demolished soon.

The states will share maintenance costs, with Iowa paying a higher share because more of the bridge is on the Iowa side of the border. Officials expect the bridge to last another 15 to 20 years.

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