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Public meeting set on new Pierre-Ft. Pierre bridge

PIERRE (AP) — Members of the public will next week get their first chance to discuss a new bridge that will span the Missouri River between Pierre and Fort Pierre.

A two-hour public meeting is scheduled Tuesday night at the Ramkota hotel in Pierre to update the public and solicit suggestions on matters including design and location for the structure that will replace a bridge built in 1962. More than 15,000 vehicles travel across the bridge each day.

The current bridge, completed in 1962, was designed with a 50-year life span. In 2009 it underwent $4.8 million of renovations to expand its life until it could be replaced. Construction on the new bridge is not scheduled to start until 2023, and the bridge won't open to traffic until 2025. Since it is a major Missouri River crossing, the new bridge is being designed with a 100-year lifespan, as opposed to the current standard of 75 years.

Minnesota-based engineering firm URS is the lead contractor on the project. The cost of the new bridge is not known. Officials hope that the federal government will pay 80 percent of the cost, said Kevin Goeden, chief bridge engineer with the Department of Transportation.

People who can't make Tuesday's meeting can still supply comments for three weeks through the website http://www.us14missouririverbridge.com .

Another public meeting will be held in late spring or early summer to unveil design options, Department of Transportation project manager Steven Gramm said.

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