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Report Looks at SD Road And Bridge Conditions

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South Dakota’s Transportation System is being researched by the experts. A national non-profit transportation research group called TRIP has a new report on the current conditions of our roads and bridges. That report says we’re in need of some improvements.

"Twenty-three percent of the state’s major roads are in poor or medicore condition. These are the roads that need repaving or reconstruction,” said TRIP Representative, Rocky Moretti.

This includes local and state maintained roads and highways. According to the report by a national transportation research group called TRIP, 63-percent are of our major roads and highways have pavement in good condition, 14-percent are rated as fair condition, 16-percent are mediocre and 7-percent are in poor condition.

Right now the numbers don't seem too threatening, but District 20 State Senator Mike Vehle believes that if we don't take action soon, the problem will get much worse down the road.

"Right now the level of poor roads are in the single digits. Down the road I see it possibly being in the mid-twenties (if we don’t do something.) When you have a poor road condition, then you need to tear it up and start over," said District 20 State Senator Mike Vehle.

Vehle says the county and township roads are immediate problems that need to be fixed. He says there is another area that needs attention. It’s the county and township bridges, like the bridge on Lincoln County Highway 128 near Lennox.

"In South Dakota, 25-percent of the bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete," said Moretti.

According to the report, South Dakota has the fifth highest share of structurally deficient bridges in the nation. They are bridges with deterioration that need significant improvements.

"Many times these are costly improvements,” said Moretti.

But Vahle says the state isn't spending enough money to improve these roads. He says in order for this to happen, the state needs to somehow bring in more revenue.

"Everyone wants good and safe bridges but no one wants to pay for them," said Vehle.

Vehle offers a few ideas that would increase revenue to fund our roadways now. Those ideas include: a higher license plate fee, federal government funding, gas tax or excise tax.

"If you got it, a road brought it," said Vehle.

The report also says 130 people are killed annually in traffic crashes in South Dakota. Those with TRIP say not all are due to the poor conditions in the roadways, but when money is invested in guard rails and lane markings, they see a reduction in fatalities.
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