Narrow bridges

Trillion dollar package means millions for South Dakota roads and bridges


SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) – South Dakota is expected to receive $ 1.9 billion in federal assistance for highway projects over the next five years under the recently approved federal infrastructure program, according to the administration of President Joe Biden.

But that’s not the only money that would come to South Dakota. The state would also receive $ 225 million for bridge repairs, $ 124 million for public transition, and additional millions for other projects, including broadband upgrades.

Federal money has helped repair roads, bridges, railroads, and other infrastructure in South Dakota for many years. Federal money is used for projects coordinated by the DOT, but it is also transferred to counties and cities.

South Dakota received approximately $ 1.8 billion from 2016 to 2021 in federal funding Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST act), according to TRIP, a national non-profit transportation research organization which has been in existence since 1973.

Since 2016, the state has received about $ 1.91 for every dollar motorists in South Dakota pay in federal user fees, according to TRIP.

The State of South Dakota received $ 375 million in direct federal infrastructure funding in 2019-20, according to the 2019-2020 annual report of the state Department of Transportation.

For fiscal year 2021, $ 308,725,625 was allocated to South Dakota in FAST money, according to ConstructionDive online in an October 2020 article.

Federal money helps repair highways and bridges at the state level, but it is also used for bridges and roads in state counties.

South Dakota gets a C- grade for the condition of its infrastructure, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The ASCE 2021 bulletin says 17% of the state’s bridges are in poor condition.

According to SD DOT Annual Report 2019-2020 about 98% of Crown-owned bridges are in fair or better condition.

But not all state bridges belong to the state.

the American Association of Road and Transportation Builders (ARTBA) said that of the state’s 5,880 bridges, 1,038 are classified as structurally deficient. This is an improvement over the 1,055 bridges with the same classification in 2016.

It takes money to repair these bridges.

The ARTBA said South Dakota has identified 2,477 bridges in need of repair at an estimated cost of $ 992.9 million.

McCook County Highway Superintendent Mic Kreutzfeldt The biggest use of federal money in his county is for bridge projects.

“Federal money will definitely have an impact on our ability to (make) bridges,” Kreutzfeldt said.

Brown County Superintendent of Highways Dirk Rogers said the county, like most of our counties and the state, is behind schedule on bridge improvement projects.

The county has five posted bridges, which means these bridges are limited to vehicles of a certain weight.

But there are counties with as many as 66 posted bridges, Rogers said.

Weight restrictions can make it harder for farmers to access fields or force deliveries and transport to take alternative routes.

Brown County will receive approximately $ 425,000 in federal funds this fiscal year, Rogers said.

The county is happy to get $ 425,000, but Rogers wanted to provide context as well.

“It opens up about three miles of road,” Rogers said.

But, Rogers said his first look at the infrastructure plan shows there could be a 20% increase in federal money.

“Every little bit counts,” Rogers said.

Kreutzfeldt said about a third of McCook’s 287 roads may be eligible for federal funds starting in 2021.

The White House brief stated South Dakota has over 2,031 miles of poor freeways.

TRIP estimates that it costs motorists $ 562 per year to drive on poor and average roads. These costs come from additional repairs, accelerated vehicle depreciation, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.

It is too early to know what the impact of the $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill will be on state and counties, Kreutzfeldt and Rogers said.

Rogers said more money for public transit could help in his county. There is a large employer just outside of Aberdeen and public transit could benefit those employees, he said.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem lobbied for the expansion of broadband in the state during his tenure.

The legislature passed its $ 100 million broadband initiative this year, in part because the state benefited from federal COVID-19 assistance.

The federal infrastructure package includes around $ 65 billion for broadband upgrades. South Dakota would get $ 100 million, according to the White House.

The infrastructure plan also includes funds to help states cope with the impacts of climate change, cyber attacks and extreme weather events. South Dakota would get $ 19.6 million over five years to fight wildfires.

From January to September 2021, the state recorded 221 fires, according to South Dakota State Wildland Fire. Ninety-three of them were caused by lightning.

There are approximately 645 public water systems (PWS) in South Dakota, according to the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR). The state will receive $ 355 million over five years to improve the state’s water infrastructure.

The state is also seeking additional electric vehicle chargers, in part because of advocacy from the state’s tourism department.

The infrastructure package would provide approximately $ 29 million over five years to support the expansion of electronic vehicle charging stations across the state. The estimate in this category could change with updated data and fiscal year.

South Dakota would also receive $ 82 million over five years for airport improvement projects.

Various airports in the state have used federal money for improvements.

For example, the city of Watertown is using federal funds to build a new terminal.