By Dan Bechtold, Editor
The public learned more details about plans to replace the Platte-Winner bridge at a public meeting in Winner on Dec. 12.
The South Dakota Department of Transportation hosted the meeting to outline the proposed plans and the progress the department has made since unveiling the project in May. When the project was first announced last spring a public meeting was held in Winner.
Plans are to replace the long Platte-Winner Bridge sometime in 2024-2025. The new bridge will be in a different location but somewhat close the current bridge. Traffic will be maintained on the current bridge while construction is going on.
Last year the state DOT completed a statewide major bridge investment study. That study recommended the SD44 bridge over the Missouri River should be replaced sometime in the mid-2020s. The existing SD44 highway alignment between highways SD47 and SD50 has also experienced numerous landslides since the current bridge opened in 1966, resulting in extensive repair and mitigation expenses.
The DOT has collected data and used public and agency input from the first meetings to prioritize the area where a new river crossing should be located.
Tim Thoreen of HR Green of St. Paul, Minn., consultant project manager, said since the project will impact the Snake Creek Recreation Area, architects and project managers have been working closely with state officials to ensure the route chosen for the new bridge is as efficient as possible for all entities.
Architects are anticipating the new bridge to be the same style as the current one but expanded from 28 feet wide to 36 feet wide. Architects want the new bridge to last for 100 years.
Figures show that 900 vehicles cross the bridge on a daily basis and estimates are that will expand to 1,400 vehicles by 2050.
Based on input and data analysis, more than 20 criteria were developed for the evaluation of an initial set of bridge location options. The DOT has screened down the number of alternatives to three after a comparison of each alternative.
Some criteria appear to be the key factors that will be instrumental in the final determination of a preferred alternative location. Some of the criteria looked at include geotechnical conditions, impact to recreation resources (specifically Snake Creek Recreation Area) and cultural resources.
Some people at the meeting questioned whether the current Platte-Winner Bridge could be repurposed as a pedestrian and bike path. Thoreen said that will probably not happen. He said the liability of making that bridge a pedestrian bridge is not worth it.
A third set of public meetings about the project are planned for the summer of 2018.