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River Ramp's Construction, Demolition Celebrated

March 21, 2012, 4:59 PM by Kelly Bartnick

River Ramp's Construction, Demolition Celebrated

It's been parked over the Big Sioux River in downtown Sioux Falls for more than 50 years.  But the River Ramp is finally going down.  Demolition officially began Wednesday afternoon.

While this ramp is now obsolete, its construction was just as celebrated as the demolition. 

The year was 1961, and it was a party.  The ramp was heralded as a half-million dollar investment.

They touted it as a driver of city growth, housing 2,500 cars each and every day.

"This is a momentous occasion and a definite highlight in the development of the greater Sioux Falls," then Mayor V.L. Cruisinberry said in 1961.

And the ramp parked more than just cars. In the early years it was also a downtown gathering place.  Historic video from one occasion shows a packed top level of the ramp. And over the years, the concrete structure over the Big Sioux steadily did its job, as Mother Nature quietly chipped away at the aging concrete.

"Small pieces of concrete have fallen from parts that need to be repaired, and the cost will be extensive," city employee Matt Nelson said in 2010.

That was November 2010, when the city said the once-celebrated structure was now holding back downtown development. 

"A beautiful hotel and convention center. You could have another that would have a multi-level shopping mall," Mayor Mike Huether said in 2010.

Over the next year and half, plans to tear it down went forward. The structure was braced to keep it safe.

And now it's empty.  After 50 years of service to the city, the River Ramp will once again give way to a river view after one final party.

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