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SDDOT meeting previews largest project in state history, other future road work

A bridge replacement in southern South Dakota will be "the largest project that we’ve led in our state’s history," according to Travis Dressen, Mitchell Region Engineer for the South Dakota Department of Transportation

Drivers will be seeing signs like this one along more than one area highway this summer. Travelers should take note of where construction is going on, and plan accordingly. FOCUS file photo
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SIOUX FALLS — The Platte-Winner bridge reconstruction will be "the largest project" the South Dakota Department of Transportation has ever organized.

It was one of many upcoming projects discussed Wednesday night during the SDDOT’s public Statewide Transportation Improvement Program meeting in Sioux Falls.

The Platte-Winner Bridge — opened to traffic in 1966 — runs over a mile long, and is the only Missouri River crossing between I-90 in Chamberlain and the Fort Randall Dam near Pickstown.

A 2016 study identified the Platte-Winner bridge as a top priority for replacement by 2026, and plans for bridge location, traffic and environmental studies were announced.

The Department of Transportation acknowledged that they could not repair the current bridge while still allowing traffic to cross. Yet, designers liked that the location was the shortest area to cross the river.


A 2019 corridor study determined the new bridge will be constructed just to the north of the current bridge. Traffic will be maintained on the current bridge during construction in an effort to avoid an 89-mile detour.

Dressen said the bridge reconstruction will impact Snake Creek Recreation Area, but that a 2023 project will be carried out to relocate residences and other structures.

“This will be the largest project that we’ve led in our state’s history at $149.4 million,” Dressen said, acknowledging some unique challenges that construction crews will face.

The project is expected to be completed in 2027.

Wednesday’s meeting was one of four STIP meetings held across South Dakota over the past week. It’s focus was specifically on the SDDOT’s Mitchell Region — covering 22 counties in southeastern South Dakota.

“Transportation is critical… it is about interconnectedness,” said Mike Behm, division director of planning and engineering. “We want to have that good conversation about how we can make better lives with better transportation throughout the state.”

There are over 7,500 miles of state highways in South Dakota, which carries two-thirds of all traffic through the state, according to Mark Leiferman, SDDOT program manager. Traffic not travelling on state highways is likely using one of the state’s 74,000 miles of local roads.

Leiferman said that while about 90% of roadways statewide are in good or excellent conditions, and about 98% of the state’s bridges and culverts are in good or fair condition, travelers can expect to see more structure and roadway improvement projects in the coming years.


Information packets were distributed with an accompanying presentation by SDDOT officials detailing 318 tentative roadway and structure improvement projects scheduled to begin in fiscal years 2022 through 2025.

Mitchell Region Engineer Travis Dressen gave an overview of the number of projects annually, while diving into some higher profile projects.

Through 2024, the SDDOT expects 20 surfacing or resurfacing projects on state highways within the region for a total cost of approximately $173 million.

Twenty grading and reconstruction projects are expected over the same timeframe at an estimated cost of $609 million.

Total investments, made up of roadway, bridge and culvert construction and improvements, is estimated to cost $1.5 billion through fiscal year 2025.

The SDDOT Mitchell Region is further broken down into the Mitchell, Sioux Falls and Yankton Areas. The Mitchell Area is the largest of the three by land area, covering all or some of 14 counties.

Dressen briefly covered many tentative projects within the Mitchell Area, including major projects through fiscal year 2025.

Tentative 2022 Projects


Following the estimated November completion of Interstate 90 eastbound comes a similar project for nearby westbound lanes in 2022. A 13 mile stretch of I-90 west between Humboldt and Hartford is scheduled for PCC surfacing replacement, bridge replacements, pipe work and correction of other deficiencies.

Traffic speeds along Interstate 90 on Tuesday afternoon east of Mitchell. (Matt Gade/Republic)

U.S. 81 is planned to be milled and resurfaced with pipe work between S.D. 38 and the McCook/Miner county line in 2022.

Many other highways around Mitchell and surrounding towns will see added turn lanes and extra safety features such as flashing lights on stop signs, pedestrian safety measures and rumble strips.

There are 95 tentative projects scheduled for 2022 within the Mitchell Region.

Tentative 2023 Projects

Most notable for Mitchell residents and travelers are the plans for S.D. 37 from North Main Street to National Guard Road. Dressen says this $21.5 million project came about “mainly due to surfacing conditions.”

The project, scheduled to begin in 2023, includes reconstruction of the five lane section south of the Lake Mitchell spillway and replacing both structures over Firesteel Creek, while improving conditions on the four lane divided section north of the creek.

“We’ve been working with the City of Mitchell on this project, coordinating some erosion that’s happening along Lake Mitchell, along with building a shared use path from North Main to Kibbee Park,” Dressen said.

Since the public meeting on the project, Dressen said the DOT has decided to retain right turn lanes for traffic continuing southbound on S.D. 37.

The project also contains funding for ADA compliance, traffic and street light improvements and more.

Dressen estimates the project to be completed some time in 2024.

90 other projects are tentatively scheduled in the Mitchell Region for 2023.

Tentative 2024 Projects

In addition to the Platte-Winner bridge project, 87 other reconstructions or improvements are set for 2024.

A schematic drawing in the South Dakota Department of Transportation's Platte-Winner Bridge Corridor Study shows the approximate route (in blue) of the planned replacement bridge on State Highway 44 scheduled for approximately 2025. (South Dakota DOT graphic)

Another stretch of I-90 eastbound between Humboldt and Hartford is set for construction. 13 miles of roadway are scheduled for replacement and other deficiency corrections.

Multiple right of way acquisitions, bridge repairs and culvert repairs and replacements are also scheduled for various times of the year.

Tentative 2025 Projects

The intersection of S.D. 37 and S.D. 50 near Tyndall will be reconstructed to include turn lanes and other safety features. A fifth lane will be added to the existing four lane stretch of S.D. 50 through town, and intersections of city streets and S.D. 50 will be realigned. S.D. 50 will return to a two lane road east of Tyndall. The total cost is estimated at $11.41 million.

52 projects in the Mitchell Region are tentatively planned for 2025.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021. After over a year in Mitchell, he moved to Milwaukee, where he now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on regional news that impacts the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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