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Baltic Bridge Reopens To Traffic



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The bridge that connects the city of Baltic to Interstate 29 is now officially open. For ten months, residents of Baltic had to take round about ways to get to and from the city while the bridge was being rebuilt. But on Tuesday, city and Minnehaha County leaders gathered to hold a ribbon cutting to mark the opening of the bridge.
 
Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday night on the edge of a new bridge that will make their commutes in and out of Baltic a lot easier.

 “I'm glad it's here, that's for sure, everyone is,” said Orlando Erickson, a longtime resident of Baltic.

For 98-year-old Erickson, this is the third time he has seen a new bridge for Highway 114 built. So it’s safe to say he knows firsthand just how much of an inconvenience cutting off Baltic from its direct route to Interstate 29 is.

“It's kind of a nuisance, a lot of extra miles if you want to go someplace on the other side,” Erickson said.

 And Baltic Mayor Mike Wendland agrees.
    
“There are only two ways out of town that aren't gravel,” said Wendland. “And to the west of the interstate is just one of the ways people use to get back and forth to work.”

 The nearly 60-year-old bridge closed in September, after it was deemed unsafe.

“We were able to reuse the piers, the piers being the pillars underneath. They just needed to do some work to those, but otherwise the whole top deck needed to be replaced,” said Wendland.
    
Now, ten months and more than one million dollars later, a new bridge stands.

And now not only do drivers have a safer way to get across the Big Sioux River, but pedestrians do as well.

“During the design stages I asked the engineers and the county if it could be possible to add a sidewalk to the north side of the bridge,” Wendland said.

Wendland said he wanted people to be able to cross the bridge safely as they make their way to the park.
 
As for Erickson, he's just happy he has a more direct route, walking or driving, to where he'll need to go.

“We appreciate this, very much,” Erickson said.

The new bridge is expected to last 50 to 60 years.



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