In The Moment ... September 26, 2019 Show 667 Hour 1

The recent rising waters have had some South Dakota roads, highways and interstates closed again.

What are the safety concerns and processes for reopening these roads? South Dakota Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist explains.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

The mayor of Sioux Falls says slumping sales tax revenue prompts him to cut the city’s capital improvements budget by more than $45.2 million. The plan broadly covers infrastructure like roads and buildings. The CIP is a rolling roadmap. The method allows leaders to adjust for different economic circumstances while planning for the next five years.

Bold black letters flash onto the projection screen at Tuesday afternoon’s capital improvement plan presentation, "Tough but necessary choices have been made."

SD Department of Transportation

Department of Transportation officials say funds for winter roadway maintenance are adequate despite a late coming winter that’s brought more precipitation than last year. 

The DOT winter maintenance budget is $17.5 million. That covers resources like snow removal and de-icing of interstate and highway systems.

Of that $17.5 million, $8.5 million has already been used. But Jason Humphrey, the state construction and maintenance engineer, says the remaining funds should last the rest of the season.  

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Public safety officials say this year’s holiday weekend breaks a trend in fatal crashes on South Dakota roads. Lee Axdahl is director of the state’s Office of Highway Safety.

"We always head into Memorial Day weekend, which is the unofficial start of summer, with our fingers crossed, and this year that worked," Axdahl says. "Apparently, from the information that we have so far in South Dakota, we don't know of any roadway fatalities that have been reported in the state for the official Memorial Day weekend, which is good, because in 2014 we had six fatalities and in 2015 we had four."

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Storms in mid-June ripped across South Dakota. A tornado, 95-mile-per-hour winds, baseball-sized hail, and heavy rains knocked down power lines, slammed trees and branches to the ground, and washed out roads and bridges.

The severe weather cause nearly $3 million in damage to public property. Jason Bauder with South Dakota’s Office of Emergency Management says the federal government is covering some of the repair costs.

Starting Wednesday drivers on South Dakota interstates can legally cruise at 80 miles per hour. State lawmakers included the five mile an hour increase in a transportation funding bill. Governor Dennis Daugaard signed the measure. 

About 900 people responded to this spring’s citizen survey in the city of Sioux Falls. Ninety-three percent of people rank their neighborhoods as safe, and 87 percent say their quality of life in the city is either good or excellent. 


A national transportation group says South Dakota’s roads and bridges are deteriorating and a major contributing factor is lack of funding. Researchers for TRIP say numbers from local reports and studies show the state’s roads and bridges continue to break down.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A national transportation group says South Dakota’s roads and bridges are deteriorating and a major contributing factor is lack of funding. Researchers for the group called TRIP say numbers from local reports and studies show the state’s roads and bridges continue to break down. The report shows the condition of pavement is getting worse, and it could take the economy with it.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Lawmakers in Pierre now have one piece of legislation aimed at funding repairs to South Dakota’s roads and bridges. Members of the House State Affairs committee Tuesday killed one of two bills that increase taxes to support state infrastructure. 

In January lawmakers had two different plans for raising enough money to support roads and bridges across South Dakota. Legislators quickly amended the State Senate’s version of the transportation bill to look like the one introduced in the House of Representatives.

Photo by Jeffrey Beall

When Governor Dennis Daugaard opened the 2015 legislative session with his State of the State address last month, he said his top priority was roads and bridges. Lawmakers are still working on the governor’s highway and bridge funding proposal.

There are 142 federally recognized bridges in Brown County, plus around 400 miles of paved roads and 200 miles of gravel. And they don’t take care of themselves. Funding for upkeep comes from various levels of government, but the need is often greater than the funding.

Strengthening Bridges

Jan 23, 2015
South Dakota State University

Nadim Wehbe, director of the Jerome L. Lohr Structures Lab, said that testing has revealed that a new means of joining precast double-tee bridges can dramatically increase a bridge's lifetime.


Governor Dennis Daugaard kicked off the 2015 legisaltive session with his state of the state address to lawmakers on Tuesday. He proposed $50 million in new funding to help fund road and bridge projects. He said the state’s entire economy and well-being depends on road infrastructure and right now roads are underfunded.

In Tuesday's State of the State address, Governor Daugaard proposed raising taxes and fees by about $50 million dollars to fund road and bridge projects. A legislative proposal would raise twice that.

Republican Mike Vehle is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and was chairman of the legislature’s interim Highway Needs and Financing Committee. That committee’s funding proposal, Senate Bill 1, would raise more than $100 million to pay for transportation infrastructure.

Governor Tells Lawmakers To Fix Roads And Bridges

Jan 13, 2015

The 20-15 South Dakota Legislative Session began with the annual State of the State Address today (Tuesday).  Governor Dennis Daugaard says his top priority is working on the state’s roads and bridges.  

After the pleasantries and welcome of new lawmakers to their first session, Governor Daugaard didn’t mince any words with his goals for the state.

Tips for Safe Driving During Summer Construction

May 1, 2014

South Dakota motorists will start seeing more road construction across the state as summer weather moves in. The state Department of Transportation has already started some projects, and will continue its construction into the fall. Drivers can prepare themselves for the disruption.

SD Roads Deteriorating

Nov 21, 2013

A recent report reveals a segment of South Dakota’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition and one quarter of the state’s bridges are outdated or showing significant deterioration.  The report indicates that many of the state’s bridges aren’t structurally sound and have serious problems with the bridge deck, supports and other major components.  It also shows that nearly one quarter of South Dakota’s major roads are deteriorating. The classification of poor means the roads have ruts, cracks and potholes bad enough they need to be resurfaced or even reconstructed.

South Dakota's Infrastructure

Jun 4, 2013

Last Thursday's South Dakota Focus program with Stephanie Rissler was on infrastructure in South Dakota. Guests included Darin Bergquist, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Transportation; Brookings City Manager Jeff Weldon; State Senator Mike Vehle of Mitchell; Phillip Anderson, President of the Piedmont Board of Trustees; and Mark Cotter, Public Works Director for the City of Sioux Falls. the guests discussed infrastructure in South Dakota, which cities are thriving and which are failing and the state of South Dakota's roads and bridges.