The Seward County Road Department is tasked with road and bridge maintenance, which consists of signing, graveling, mowing, paving, drainage, snow removal, bridge inspections and culvert repair/replacement. The Road Department maintains approximately 931 miles of gravel roads and about 6,000 county road signs. Other responsibilities include preparing the annual budget and providing reports to the County Board, tracking and recording all construction, maintenance, and equipment costs. This information, along with the equipment inventory, is submitted to the Nebraska Board of Public Roads Classifications & Standards for their review. Bridge inspections are performed and reported annually to the Nebraska Department of Roads Bridge Division.
I met with Nate Payne who has been employed with the Seward County Road Department for 17 years, first on the Bridge Crew and since 2005, a Bridge Foreman.
Payne stated "my main focus is to keep existing bridge structures open and in service for the travelling public and to comply with State & Federal standards." That is a challenging job considering Seward County has 184 bridges with the oldest being built in 1908. Payne took me to the next bridge in Seward County that will be getting an overhaul to repair the structure, originally built in 1935, in November 2019 located on South 2nd Street on the edge of Seward. He explained how each bridge is inspected and rated on 78 points and each bridge replacement on average costs between $400,000-$2,000,000.
Q & A:
Who has been most influential in your life?
NP: My parents; they were always there for me and I could depend on them. They taught be to be resilient in life and never give up.
What is one food you'd never eat?
NP: If we're talking a stupid amount of money, I would eat anything. If someone says eat a snake for a million dollars, I'm gonna find a way to get it down. Otherwise-eel.
If you could switch jobs with anyone, what would you do?
I would be a hunting guide in Montana.
What are the oldest pair of shoes in your closet?
I have a pair of Tony Lama boots that I bought in 1994.
Do you have any phobias?
I am claustrophobic. In the Marine Corps. boot camp, we had to belly crawl through sand culverts in full training gear. As you went further, it would get tighter and tighter and you had to dig your self out to get through.
If the world were ending in 2018, what would you do differently?
Spend more time with my wife & kids. It's hard for us to all be together at one time since the kids have so many activities.
Nate lives in Utica with his wife, Christina and their six children; Sam, 13, Cora, 11, Sarah, 9, Leah, 6, Ava, 4 & Mara 2. In his free time he likes watching college football, particularly the Huskers and he enjoys hunting.