Highway 12 bridge ranked as most structurally deficient in the state

Published: Jan. 30, 2018 at 5:33 PM CST
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A new report shows more than 9% of South Dakota's bridges are structurally deficient. The bridge in the worst condition, according to this report from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, sits along Highway 12 in Aberdeen.

More than 20,000 vehicles go over the bridge each day.

"We know that it probably needs work in the future. It doesn't need anything immediately, so it's in our long-range plan, so that means work is probably 8 years or more out," SD Department of Transportation Chief Engineer Steve Johnson said.

The SDDOT makes sure to check the state's bridges at least once a year and don't want anyone driving to be concerned.

"Structurally deficient does not mean a bridge is unsafe," Johnson said. "It just means that a bridge is in need of some work at some point in the future. If a bridge is found to be unsafe by our inspection crew then we would close that bridge."

The Highway 12 bridge over Moccasin Creek in Aberdeen isn't the only one in the report. The bridge on 3rd Avenue is listed at number nine and will undergo repairs beginning in April.

"The bridge has been functionally obsolete for quite a while and we've been doing load restrictions on it so that we didn't have anyone putting themselves in danger by running large trucks and stuff like that over it," City Engineer and Public Works Director Robin Bobzien said.

When construction begins, the bridge will be closed so residents will have to adjust their commute until October.

The Brown County bridges were built more than 40 years ago, so city officials are ready to begin work.

"If they'd had attention probably 20 years ago and a little different type of maintenance on them, maybe they'd last a little longer, but I think part of it was just the design and style of them too," Bobzien said.

Another bridge in Aberdeen on the list is just east of the Aquatics Center. Bobzien said the city is trying to obtain funding for construction in the near future. He believes that bridge will need replacement within a few years.

The SDDOT has a Bridge Improvement Grant program was started back in 2015 with Senate Bill 1: revise certain taxes and fees to fund improvements to public roads and bridges in South Dakota, to increase the maximum speed limit on interstate highways, and to declare an emergency. There's $9 million per year in grants that go out to local governments for their bridges and will increase next year to $15 million.

Local governments have to apply for the grant. The SDDOT has received around 100 applications each year that total in about $20 million, showing just how many bridges across the state need upgrades.

The second most structurally deficient bridge in the report is located on 49th Street in Sioux Falls over the Big Sioux River.