Commissioners approve five-year transportation plan

Dawn Rye | Writer

During last week’s commissioners meeting a motion was made to approve the five-year transportation plan. 

Dan Johnson, PE, LSIT for Johnson Engineering Company, explained a public hearing was held on Tuesday, Sept. 24. He noted the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires information to be submitted by the Tuesday, Oct. 15 deadline. Johnson said there are new standards of the BIG (Bridge Improvement Grant) program from Senate Bill One back in 2015.

Chairman Lyle VanHove asked if the Viborg Bridge on for next year, for sure?

Johnson noted the design is underway. He explained there was a sizable amendment that the DOT requested before the design process started. He said there is an implementation of hydraulic circular put out by Corps of Engineers called HEC 20. The HEC 20 amendment has been signed. Johnson said the Corp of Engineers is asking his firm to go back and redo a hydraulic analysis on a structure that had already been completed.

Commissioner Mick Miller asked what was the reason for the amendment?

Johnson said it came from FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) and made it a requirement based on a shallow foundation tech brief. He noted the bridge is not a shallow foundation bridge; it is a deep foundation bridge. As a result of the shallow foundation tech brief, the DOT required wide-sweeping changes for all bridges in the state that were not yet in bid letting.

Johnson explained the DOT Transportation Commission have been disusing bridges being four times longer than they originally plan for. His concern with the HEC 20 work is it will result in a recommendation for a longer bridge.

Highway Superintendent Kent Austin said he held onto the amendments until his questions were answered from Pierre. Who was going to pay for it? The Transportation Commission in Pierre told Austin that the DOT would pay for Johnson’s extra work. 

Austin noted the rule changes are what throw cringes into the plan; it is not the engineers. 

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