Connecting the DOTs - December 2020

Connecting the DOTs

Pierre - Fort Pierre Bridge Replacement Project Highlights
To watch the latest presentation on the Pierre-Fort Pierre Bridge Replacement project, view the video on our Facebook page @southdakotadot. If you would like a copy of the handout from the presentation, or to be added on the newsletter and updates email list, please send an email to Below are photo renderings of the Lt. Commander John C. Waldron Memorial Bridge provided by Stantec.

The Latest in Innovation - SD511 Roll Out 
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The Secretary's Corner
Because the SDDOT is a large organization, at times we forget to recognize the vital role each person plays in providing a safe and effective public transportation system. I didn't want to miss the opportunity to publicly recognize and personally thank those who responded to and assisted with the Highway 38 bridge accident earlier this month. As many of you may remember, the Highway 38 bridge (1.5 miles west of Salem) was closed due to flood damage in September 2019. The structural damage was significant enough to warrant the closure of the current structure with plans to build a new one in the upcoming summer months of 2021. In May 2020, a temporary, portable, one-lane structure was placed over the existing structure to allow the roadway to be reopened. The temporary structure remained open to one-lane traffic until the night of Dec. 3, when an over-width vehicle attempted to navigate through the temporary structure. The vehicle was significantly wider than the temporary structure, causing the vehicle to strike and become wedged within the structure. The impact caused significant damage to three interior sections and one end section of the structure. SDDOT maintenance crews immediately closed the roadway and started the repair on the temporary structure. The crews were able to remove the damaged portions, repair and/or replace the interior sections, and replace the damaged end section. The roadway was reopened for traffic in the morning of Dec. 10. This work was completed in an incredibly short amount of time considering the damage done to the structure. Thank you to all who played a role in this team effort including Mitchell Region Bridge, Pierre Region Bridge (who helped procure the repair parts), Mitchell Area Maintenance, and the Office of Bridge Design. Photos below show the work done by the crews during the night. The newly repaired temporary structure (photo on right) will remain open to one-lane traffic until construction of the new structure begins this summer.

The Annual STIP Update (During a Global Pandemic) 
(Thanks to Levi Briggs, Jerry Ortbahn, Mark Leiferman, and Mike Behm for this STIP summary!)

The Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) is a planning tool used to identify projects over 8 years including 4 years of development and 4 years for construction. The annual STIP update is a 4-year project listing developed through coordination by the SDDOT and multiple governmental entities, public agencies, and interested parties. The program identifies highway and intermodal improvements to preserve, renovate, and enhance South Dakota's transportation system.

The development of the ׂ׀ׂ-ׁׂ׀ ׂׄS0”c was much different this year due to Covid-19. When instructed to work from home in March of 2020, we had to learn how to accomplish our daily tasks in a much different way. Every April, the Project Development (PD) Office holds two meetings, a preliminary programming meeting with Planning & Engineering Division staff and a formal programming meeting with Central Office, Region, and Area staff. With everyone on “lockdown” to “flatten the curve” we all met through Microsoft Teams. When you think of a conference call with approximately 50-60 people, you might think confusion and talking over one another might be the norm. However, other than a couple of “mic mute situations”, a great discussion was had to draft the Tentative 2021-2024 STIP.

While we hoped the pandemic would be over soon (looking back that was wishful thinking) and we could hold SDDOT’s annual Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Tribal Transportation and Planning District coordination meetings in addition to the annual four regional public STIP meetings in person, this was not the case. By the end of May, STIP development staff determined having in-person meetings would not be safe for staff or the public. SDDOT and MPO staff met in late May and SDDOT and Tribal Transportation officials were able to meet in mid-June via Teams or conference call to discuss the coordination of each agency’s current and planned construction projects. There were great discussions concerning highway construction projects even if we could not meet in person.

During the last week of June, SDDOT presented the 2021-2024 Tentative STIP to each of the six Planning Districts in South Dakota using virtual methods. We found early on that not everyone had Microsoft Teams capability, but we overcame this issue by having each Planning District organize a “Google Zoom” meeting which allowed SDDOT staff, planning district staff, and members to discuss. The biggest challenge was to figure out how to conduct the four public meetings in each region. Different options to hold them virtually were considered and in the end, the best solution was to hold the meetings via conference call using Teams. This allowed the organizer the ability to mute individual callers or all callers at once and to have the control necessary to eliminate any “hot mic” moments. SDDOT also provided the option for the public to listen to the conference call via SD Public Broadcasting through their website. Since a conference call was used, there was not a way to visually present the 2021-2024 Tenative STIP to the public. This was overcome by posting a recorded Power Point presentation for each region on SDDOT’s STIP webpage approximately one week prior to the public meetings. Mike Behm (P&E Director), Mark Leiferman (PD Program Manager), and all four Region Engineers (Mark Peterson, Aberdeen; Travis Dressen, Mitchell; Jason Humphrey, Pierre; and Todd Seaman, Rapid City) provided great presentations even if this was new territory for them.

Public meeting information was advertised through local print, digital media, written letters to elected officials, and SDDOT Facebook/Twitter accounts. The advertisement of the public meetings was the only thing that didn't change this year. New this year was a Powtoon, created by PD staff, advertising the public meetings to create more public interest. Without in-person public meetings, and with short notice to develop a different delivery method, SDDOT was still able to garner good public participation and received great comments to make better lives through better transportation. 2021-2024 STIP & Interactive map:

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