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Construction underway for new bridge connecting Pierre, Fort Pierre

An engineer's rendering of the new bridge connecting Pierre and Fort Pierre, which is set to...
An engineer's rendering of the new bridge connecting Pierre and Fort Pierre, which is set to open in 2023.(South Dakota Dept. of Transportation)
Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 4:00 PM CST
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***This article was updated to reflect commentary from local officials and new details regarding the project.***

PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Construction has begun on a new bridge that will one day connect Pierre and Fort Pierre.

Engineers recently began underwater work on the new Lt. Cmdr. John C. Waldron Bridge, Dakota Radio Group reports.

Project coordinator Denae Johnson said the four-lane bridge will be 77 feet wide, 1,686 feet long, and will require as much steel found in 845 cars. It comes with a price of just under $50 million.

“There should have been a crane that was brought in there last week, another crane in there next week.” Johnson said. “Then in mid-December, you guys should see some barges coming in there for that project.”

The new bridge will be roughly ten feet north of the old one. She said the Missouri River will remain open and largely unrestricted to both water and car traffic during the project, but people will need to keep their distance from all equipment.

A 2016 study done by the SDDOT concluded the original John C. Waldron Memorial Bridge, built in 1962, has reached the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced. The current structure carries traffic from US Highways 14 and 83 and SD Highway 34 across the bridge that serves as the primary crossing point over the Missouri River between Fort Pierre and Pierre.

For locals, the new bridge has been a long time coming, and means a lot more than just an updated transportation system.

“It is just one of the many construction projects going on in our community. Not only will that make our transportation that much better having a new bridge, but the whole area will be revitalized.” said Tom Farnsworth, Pierre Parks and Recreation Director.

The bridge is just another construction project for the city, which is already working on a new water treatment plant, and an updated swimming pool.

Despite challenges faced in the short term due to construction, many local businesses are looking forward to dozens of construction workers who will need local places to stay and eat.

Once it is complete, the bridge will only further improve Pierre’s sprawling trail system.

“That is our river front, it is our green scape and landscape that will come back,” Farnsworth said. “We are planning some special parks and recreation features in and around the area of the bridge over the course of the next couple years.”

The project is scheduled to be completed by December 2023. The project managers intend to have a website up regarding the bridge in the near future.

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