SD parks system comes out a big winner, as transportation panel ponies-up millions more

Capitol News Bureau
KELO South Dakota Game Fish

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Transportation Commission agreed Thursday to provide a $2.3 million increase in the coming months to help the state Game, Fish and Parks Department clear more of its backlog.

State Transportation Secretary Joel Jundt recommended the additional funding. The state Division of Parks and Recreation has received an average of $700,000 per year from the state Department of Transportation under a 2008 memorandum of understanding, including $500,000 in each of the two most recent years.

State Game, Fish and Parks Secretary Kevin Robling laid out for the Transportation Commission on Thursday a five-year, $46 million plan to catch up on road needs in South Dakota’s state parks and outdoor recreation areas. It calls for $2.8 million per year from the South Dakota Department of Transportation, whose funding the commission helps oversee.

“This money will strictly be used for collector roads, and that’s it,” Robling promised. He said a spending report would be delivered to the Transportation Commission by August 1st each year.

In a separate action, the Transportation Commission earmarked $1.65 million of federal aid for four bridges in the state’s park system. The bridge work totals an estimated $1.9 million. “That (difference) will be the responsibility of Game, Fish and Parks,” said Mike Behm, SDDOT’s director of engineering and planning.

Secretary Jundt said the Department of Transportation had been sending $2 million per year to the Game, Fish and Parks Department before a funding crunch forced a big cut in 2008.

The Transportation Commission approved the new $2.8 million with conditions. The money can be used only on the 265 miles of collector roads in the parks system. The Game, Fish and Parks Commission will determine the projects. There will be the August annual report. The Transportation Commission will decide each year whether it can afford to give all or part of the $2.8 million.

“It would be on the table every year?” commission member Rod Fouberg of Aberdeen asked.

“Correct,” Jundt replied.

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