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West End Bridge getting rebuilt

Lake Mitchell's West End Bridge is pictured in this recent photograph. (Sean Ryan/The Daily Republic)

A 75-year-old bridge on the far west side of Lake Mitchell will be torn down this summer and rebuilt in nearly a year-long process estimated to cost approximately $1.54 million.

The West End Bridge, built in 1939, crosses a narrow stretch of water where Firesteel Creek empties into the west side of Lake Mitchell. According to Mitchell's Assistant Public Works Director Terry Johnson, the city has been looking to replace the bridge for at least the past five years.

Recently, the City Council approved a set of documents that authorize the South Dakota Department of Transportation to seek bids for the project. The city will pay for 20 percent, expected to be approximately $300,000, of the total cost to replace the bridge, according to Johnson. The remainder will be paid with federal funds allocated for bridge repair.

If construction begins this summer, as is expected, the bridge will be totally closed to traffic until it reopens, likely early summer 2015. The length of the project will be due in part to several concrete beams that need to be built, a process that will take three to four months, Johnson said.

The new bridge, at 126 feet, will be slightly longer than the current bridge, at 122 feet, but both will be the same height, Johnson said.

Anyone living north of the bridge on the north side of Lake Mitchell will be rerouted during construction to North Harmon Drive or National Guard Road to state Highway 37 as a way of getting to and from other areas of the city.

"People just need to keep in mind that the bridge will be closed," Johnson said.

Johnson said the Mitchell Police Division has been made aware of the situation in case of an emergency.

"They're just going to have take alternate routes and make decisions knowing this bridge will be out," he said.

The use of federal funds is largely responsible for the delay in getting the project moving forward, Johnson said.

"It does get frustrating sometimes because of the review process that they have to go through," he said.

Projects that use federal funding take longer, Johnson said, because they are subjected to a lengthy review and acceptance process, and then get worked into a funding schedule.