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Highway 12 project to continue in May

The South Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT) will continue the Grand Crossing project with a tentative start in the first week in May, as long as the weather cooperates.

At a meeting held Tuesday, April 15, John Villbrandt led the discussion with the primary contractor and sub-contractors on the schedule and timing of the project.

The group, which included representation from McLaughlin & Schulz, Inc., Muth Electric, Webster Scale, Dakota Dirt, MDU, WRT, Goldsmith and Heck Engineering and others, discussed the problems that cropped up last summer and how to adjust the plan to eliminate those problems.

The plan is similar to that of last summer and includes new curbs, gutters, sidewalk, lights and road surface. Because it is blocks shorter than the first, it expected that the work in town from Main Street west to Seventh Avenue West and back to Main Street. It will not take as long as last summer’s project. The work will begin on the  north side of Grand Crossing at Seventh Avenue West (near the Last Chance Beer Bar and Grill) with removal of existing curb, gutter and sidewalks, and move east toward Main Street. The work will continue with grading and shaping for the concrete work that will follow the removal work. The wiring, footings and bases for the lights will then be installed followed by the new concrete work. Once this work is complete on the north side of Grand Crossing, the sequence will be repeated on the south side of the highway, this time progressing from Main Street west to Burger King.

After the concrete work is complete on both sides of the road, the salvage asphalt surfacing, milling and surface preparation work will start. After the prep work, the new asphalt surfacing will be placed from Main Street all the way to the Missouri River Bridge. With the completion of these phases of the project, pavement markings will be placed, lights will be installed and erosion control will be completed.

According to Villbrandt, if the contractor’s schedule holds true, paving should be complete by the end of July.

During the first phase of construction, the parking lane and outside lane for westbound traffic will be closed.

Traffic will be directed to the opposite side of Grand Crossing during the project and be cut down to two lanes. When work switches from one side to the other, traffic will then be directed to the two center lanes, with only one lane of traffic in each direction, but will also be only two lanes.  This transition period will be for a short time only, while concrete work is being completed on the north side of the highway and removals begin on the south side.  Once all work is confined to the south side of the highway, two lanes of westbound traffic will be restored and only one lane of eastbound traffic will remain.

Traffic will be directed to the opposite side of Grand Crossing during the project and be cut down to two lanes. During the switch from one side to the other, the traffic will be directed to the two center lanes, but will also be only two lanes. This will be for a short time only, until prep work is finished and the work starts on the opposite side.

The group talked about last season’s problems with restoring traffic controls at the end of each day controlling the flow of traffic from the side streets and what could be done about keeping drivers off of the work site. They concluded there needs to be someone in charge of putting the traffic control (barricades, cones, etc.) directors back into place at night after the work closes down for the day. That way drivers won’t be confused as to where they should be driving and they will not be cutting across six-inch drops where the surface has already been milled.

Last summer, that was a problem for the work crews and confused drivers.

There will also be signs directing wide loads around the construction zone. Not restricting access to businesses and side streets will be a priority, but there will be times when that access will be restricted for a short time while the concrete work is completed.  Also, once the existing surfacing is removed and the road is prepped for paving, water will be used for dust control and will be applied as needed.

A water tank will be used to spray twice a day to keep the dust down after the millwork is complete.

The streetlights on West Grand Crossing will function for the first phase of the project, but as with last year’s project, when it moves to the south side, the light poles will be removed and until the work is complete, there will be no streetlights on Grand Crossing. But because the work is on a smaller scale, it will not be as long a period as last year.

There will be weekly project meetings starting on May 8, held at city hall on Thursdays at 1 p.m. The public and anyone else interested in the progress of the project and what it means to businesses along West Grand Crossing are invited to attend these meetings.              – Katie Zerr –