Ward Road bridge construction behind

Rot on corner of Gullickson bridge, also limits traffic

Brenda Wade Schmidt
Work on the bridges of Moody County is behind schedule, putting the completion of the Ward Road bridge this fall in jeopardy.
In the meantime, the Gullickson bridge west of Flandreau has gotten worse. County Highway Superintendent Marc Blum had to close down one section of that bridge last week when he noticed a corner of the bridge had fallen three inches.
A cap on the northwest corner of wooden structure rotten away, he said. The bridge is limited to one lane for part of the way across. The bridge also has had load limits so farmers aren’t able to cross it in fully-loaded trucks.
“They’ll have to do what they did last year and go way around. It’s an inconvenience,” Blum said.
Work on the Gullickson bridge should start sometime in October and be completed by early November, he said. The project is expected to take two weeks.
The project was going to start in June, but it flooded. It was rescheduled for August, but the contractor has three other jobs to finish first.
Farmer Rick Wiese, who has land on both sides of the river often goes 20 miles around to get to his bins that are only a few miles from his field, putting wear and tear on truck tires and brakes. “We can see our bin site. One of our fields is within a mile of it. But it’s on the wrong side of the river.”
It affects everybody farming in that area and the township’s ability to haul gravel in for road maintenance, he said.
“This will be the third harvest season that we haven’t been able to use it,” he said.
Farmers anticipated that this year, the bridge would be limited, but he is concerned about spring planting if the bridge isn’t completed this fall. He may not be able to use it again to put the crop in.
“I just can’t wait until it gets done. We’ll appreciate it,” he said.
As for completion of the Ward Road bridge, Blum said some of the outcome is dependent on good weather, and the state has a rule that after Nov. 1, concrete can no longer be poured for decks. He still is optimistic that the project can be finished to the point that it could open to traffic this year.
“If it’s going to be done, it’ll be done enough so we could go across them,” he said. “We’re still planning on it. It’s kind of up in the air. They’re a little behind.”
Construction delays are not only a Moody County issue but a problem statewide. At the Ward Road Bridge, some delays were caused by flooding after a big rain that hit Brookings particularly hard. That water then came down the Big Sioux River.
“Flooding set them back. They had some equipment failure that set them back a little bit,” he said. “Sometimes they could use a little bit more help. They’re doing it with four guys.”
Robert G. Schroeder, a Goodwin, Minn., company, earned the bid on the project which is mostly being paid for by money from the state Bridge Improvement Grant program. The state has contracted with Clark Engineering to oversee the work.
Blum said the crew has completed the east-side abutment and is working on the west side. The old bridge is gone, the dam is in and digging is going on now, he said. Several steps in the process have yet to be completed.
One other Moody County bridge replacement is behind schedule as well.
Bids have been accepted for the box culvert bridge east of Flandreau by Bill Doyle’s, but work has not started, Blum said. The project was scheduled to be completed mid-November.
“I haven’t heard from the contractor on when he’s going to start,” Blum said. The road will be closed during construction and traffic will be rerouted.
The county has updated its roads and bridges improvement list, a five-year plan required by the state if the county wants to qualify for Bridge Improvement Grant money. The new 2023 projects include chip sealing, asphalt patching and graveling on various roads.
For 2019, the plan includes three bridge replacements, asphalt skimming and graveling. The bridges are on 469th Avenue and 236th Street, a gravel road a mile south of Colman; on 487th Avenue three miles south of 240th Street on a paved road; and about a mile west of Egan on 233rd Street, which is a gravel road.
In other business at the Sept. 4 Moody County Commission meeting, commissioners made no changes to its proposed $6.5 million 2019 budget. The grand total for the budget is $7.75 million, which includes $1.24 million in operating transfers or cash that needs to be taken out of final projections.
Under the budget, employees will get a 2 percent increase in pay. Commissioners are scheduled to approve the final budget at a 9 a.m. meeting Sept. 25.
Commissioners also approved an application to the state for $17,000 in reimbursement to the county for work that Terry Albers with Moody County Emergency Management does for the state.


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