$1.5 million awarded for South Dakota's bridges and roads

Lincoln County, S.D. - Many counties and communities are still working to repair bridges and roads that were damaged after flooding in March and April. Now there may be reimbursement funds coming their way.

$1.5 million in what’s known as quick release or emergency relief funds will soon be available for many communities.

The money will help repair flood-damaged roads and bridges throughout South Dakota.

“This can be very helpful for counties that have received quite a bit of damage due to flooding or any national disaster,” South Dakota Department of Transportation Planning and Engineering administration program manager Tammy Williams said.

When a disaster hits, like the extreme flooding and blizzard South Dakota saw in March and April, communities lean on each other for support, but when the damage is significant, many turn to the state.

“Federal highway has what’s called the emergency relief program, ER funds,” Williams said. “So if a county has federal aid routes and they meet the minimum criteria, which is $5,000 per site damage, they could be eligible for these ER funds.”

One of those sites is Lincoln County.

“We had several sites that we had to go do work on,” Lincoln County Highway Superintendent Terry Fluit said. “We had some culverts that needed to be replaced.”

But, those three culverts run about $15,000 each.

“It’s not the end of the world for my budget, but when you couple that with all the other stuff we have to do its getting a little stressed,” Fluit said.

One of those other locations is in Newton Hills state park.

The road sunk eight inches in about a week and a half.

“We have about a 400 foot stretch up there that we are completely removing the road bed,” Fluit said. “We're going down 10 or 15 feet, removing all material. We’ll put some drain tile in there and then we'll bring everything back up with a nice clay and pack it as we come up.”

Fluit said he feels lucky though. Many other communes saw a lot worse damage and this ER money will make a big impact.

“Anytime that we have something that takes money away from something else in the budget, whether it be other projects or jobs that we have planned for that year, don’t get done,” Fluit said. “So being able to be reimbursed for that funding that’s critical to the counties.”

Fluit said they've documented all the damage and repairs for those sites. They’re now waiting on the inspections to start the reimbursement process.

Williams said they should be completed with all the inspections by the end of the week.

Four additional sites in Lincoln County will need culvert repairs. That came from the flood event in May.

Williams said there will be another ER event where communities will be able to submit locations for reimbursements.