49 bridge projects get S.D. panel’s green light

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Road work ahead generic construction

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The federal government will pay much of the cost of the latest program for improving county and city bridges throughout South Dakota.

The state Transportation Commission approved the first 49 projects Thursday from a list 113 deep.

Applications came from 11% of the 970 eligible city and county bridges in South Dakota. The requests totaled about $63 million. Federal funding totaled about $25 million. 

The state Department of Transportation ranked the projects, using the same scoring system as its bridge-improvement grant — aka BIG — program.

Thirty-seven counties and seven cities applied. Federal funds will cover 81.95% of each project. The Legislature approved $4 million of state funding, while local funds pay the rest.

Doug Kinniburgh said the estimated costs should be fairly accurate because many of the selected projects had already received BIG planning grants. He oversees the department’s program for assisting local governments.

“Always hope for lower bids, and move forward from there,” he said. 

Commission chairman Mike Vehle of Mitchell said bridges have always been a problem in South Dakota. As a state senator, Vehle led the effort to create the BIG program.

“I’m sure the counties and cities will appreciate that,” Vehle said after Thursday’s vote. 

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