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Baltic Bridge Closed, Future Unknown

September 12, 2012, 4:53 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

Baltic Bridge Closed, Future Unknown
BALTIC, SD -

A detour is set up around the west edge of Baltic.  That's because a bridge on the edge of town is no longer safe for traffic.

The stamp on the bridge reads 1957 which shows the age of the bridge on the west edge of Baltic. The steel beams under the bridge are showing their age too. 

"Being able to get some ladders up underneath the bridge and being able to get to the different piers we were able to get a good close look at the beams," highway superintendent DJ Buthe said.

Buthe says what inspectors found prompted them to close the bridge immediately. Some of the beams are half worn through.  Inspectors also found cracks, including one that runs more than 16 inches.

With so many questions surrounding the bridge and its closure, many want to know what will be next.  The county is already starting to organize a meeting with members of the town, scheduled for next week.

"We understand it is a pretty significant route for Baltic and emergency response and farmers and such, and so we want to keep everyone in the loop on what's going on and that we're working hard to get it replaced as soon as possible," Buthe said.

"What are we talking? Month? A year? Two years? Time will tell," Tanner Eining said.

Eining has owned the TNT Convenience Store for more than three years.  In that time, the bridge has been closed because of flooding.

"Our sales go down dramatically whenever the road is closed to the interstate," Eining said.

Eining hopes the county can find some solution, even if it's temporary, to re-open the route, because he's worried about what this could mean for his business and the entire community.

"Time will tell.  Hopefully it is not as bad as they think it is.  Hopefully  there is a fix before replacing it," Eining said.

Meanwhile, the bridge will remain closed while the county works to find that solution ahead of 2014, the year the bridge is scheduled to be replaced.

The closed bridge is one of more than 60 in the county more than 50 years old.  In fact, the average current age of a Minnehaha County bridge is 41 years.

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