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Final US 83 Project Underway to Update 68-Mile White River to Murdo Corridor in South Dakota

by: Debra Wood
Crews pour a bridge deck for a structure over the Little White River on a section of the U.S. 83 corridor improvements in South Dakota.
Crews pour a bridge deck for a structure over the Little White River on a section of the U.S. 83 corridor improvements in South Dakota.
Work nears completion on an $112 million, 68-mile stretch of U.S. 83 in South Dakota, featuring new pavement and a shared-use path, as the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) upgrades the corridor from White River to Murdo.

“We’ve done seven projects along that stretch in a very short timeframe to really improve the entire corridor,” says Julie Stevenson, Strategic Communications Coordinator with SDDOT.

Traffic counts along the 68-mile stretch range between 1,500 vehicles to 2,800 vehicles per day on the various segments.

“This overall work involved the placement of more than 250,000 tons of asphalt hot mix, roughly 6 million cubic yards of dirt excavation, placement of close to 20,000 cubic yards of Portland cement concrete, and placement of roughly 600,000 tons of base material,” said Doug Sherman, Winner Area Engineer for SDDOT.

Highlights include full reconstruction of the far north 23.3 miles, which included three new bridges and three new reinforced-concrete boxes. Two new walk paths were constructed to enhance safety. SDDOT designed the project in-house. There were no environmental issues.

Completed Projects
The first project began in 2017, with a $13.2 million contract to Anderson Contracting of Fort Pierre, South Dakota, to reconstruct storm sewers, curbs, and gutters, make Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) upgrades, add road lighting and traffic signals, and pave about 1.5 miles with Portland cement concrete from mile marker 21.22 to 25.13 in Todd County.
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“The project encompassed this entire range, but not all of it got new pavement as some of it had existing pavement we left in place,” Sherman says.

Bituminous Paving of Odessa, Minnesota, completed the two-year, $15.6 million second project, from mile marker 0.00 to 12.0 – from the Nebraska State Line to south of Mission in Todd County – in 2019. The work included shoulder widening, placing drainage culverts, spot grading, asphalt concrete resurfacing on shoulders, and creating a shared-use walking path from Rosebud Casino to Sigangu Village.

The third project, started and completed in 2020, entailed cold milling and resurfacing of asphalt concrete and adding rumble strips from mile marker 0.00 to 21.22 – west of the junction of U.S. 18 to north of the junction of SD 44. Bituminous Paving received this $7.7 million contract.

Bituminous Paving also received the contract for the fourth $10 million project – from mile marker 25.13 to 44.25, U.S. 18 to SD 44 in Mellette County. The work entailed cold milling and resurfacing asphalt concrete, adding guardrails, reconstructing bridge approaches and improving the shoulders.

The fifth $19.5 million project – from mile marker 56.05 to 67.55 in Mellette and Jones counties – provided grading, a 164-foot-long concrete bridge, two box culverts and interim surfacing. Work took place in 2019 and 2020. Zandstra Construction of Rapid City, South Dakota, received the $19.5 million contract. The company was founded in 1973 and specializes in dirt moving. The project is part of a BUILD grant from the Federal Highway Administration.

Current Construction Activity
The sixth project, from mile marker 45.12 to 56.05 in Jones and Mellette counties – included grading, structures, and interim surfacing from the town of White River to the actual White River. Foothills Contracting of Webster, South Dakota, began work on the $26.2 million contract in 2020, and will wrap it up this year. Construction activities began in separate work zones at the north and south ends of the 11-mile-long project and met in the middle. This project also is funded by a BUILD grant.
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The final $19.6 million project – being completed by Border States Paving of Fargo, North Dakota – began in March 2022 and is scheduled for completion in November 2022. The company, founded in 1967, remains family owned and operated. It serves North and South Dakota, Minnesota, eastern Montana, and eastern Wyoming. This project also is funded by a BUILD grant.

The $16.2 million road project entails paving 23 miles with asphalt, from mile marker 44.25 to 67.55 near White River in Jones and Mellette counties; providing ADA upgrades, including ramps at corners; and constructing and lighting a 2-mile-long, $3.4 million shared-use path.

“There is a lot of pedestrian traffic in that section of highway,” says Mark Peppel, Project Manager for SDDOT. “It will give people a safer place to walk.”

The 10-foot-wide shared-use path features luminaries and is about 10 feet away from the shoulder of the road to further enhance safety.

Border States is surface paving the two grading projects (the fifth and sixths projects). It will consume about 150,000 tons of asphalt when complete. The contractor set up an asphalt hot plant about a half-mile from the project. Paving began at the end of April. “This is a large quantity project with a lot of stuff going on,” Peppel says. “It’s going really well.”

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Border States is using GPS on rollers for intelligent compaction. The company is also using FleetWatcher, an analytics information management system. On this job, the platform offers electronic ticketing, replacing print tickets. The e-ticketing is accessible on any smartphone or tablet. It also tracks vehicles, so their location can be monitored in real time.

The project team creates 2- to 3-mile-long work zones and uses flaggers and a pilot car to keep traffic flowing on one lane through the construction site. “The pilot car brings traffic through from one flagger to the other flagger,” Peppel says. Wait times range from 10 to 12 minutes.

“The contractor has been really good,” Peppel says. “It’s going to be a really nice highway all the way from White River to Murdo. When it’s finished, this project will tie together all of the other work completed previously, so in the end, the entire 68-mile corridor will be in brand new condition.”

Photos courtesy of the South Dakota Department of Transportation

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