Moody County will receive 80 percent of the projected $2 million that it will cost to replace the Christensen Bridge northwest of Flandreau as part of the South Dakota BIG program.
The county was notified Thursday that its proposal was accepted along with 27 others in the state for either preservation, rehabilitation or replacement. The state will spend $13.93 million for the BIG program, which stands for Bridge Improvement Grant.
“We were hopeful we’d get it, but we weren’t optimistic,” said Marty Skroch, assistant to the Moody County Commission and human resources director. The county was worried it would need to offer more than a 20 percent match in order to get chosen. “They allocated a lot more money this year so that helped.”
Although the money is promised from the state now, it will take five to seven years for the funds to become available and the project to start. To make do, last year the county paid for repairs to the Christenson Bridge in order to maintain status quo until it can be replaced. It still is weight limited.
“We needed to do some work because they worried it was going to have to close,” Skroch said.
The Christenson project will be similar in scope to the Ward Road Bridge, completed late last year, with a small amount of work still planned for this spring. That bridge, also a Big Sioux River bridge and a bridge farmers rely on, was a $2.1 million project, but the bridge was in worse shape and was closed before it could be replaced. It was replaced 2.5 years after getting BIG money.
For the Christenson Bridge, the state will pay $1.6 million, and the county will spend $400,000. The county will start building up its money to pay for its share of the bridge, Skroch said.
The state received 42 applications totaling $22.8 million from five cities and 23 counties this year. In order to qualify, counties must agree to pay at least 20 percent of the matching money, have a wheel tax and have a five-year highway and bridge improvement plan in place. The bridges are also chosen based on other factors, including traffic and condition, with bridges in poor condition getting priority.
The BIG program was created by the Legislature in 2015 and set aside $7 million a year in license plate fees to replace and repair aging local bridges. The state transportation department adds another $8 million annually, making $15 million available.