SPEARFISH — As part of Phase 2 of the Jackson Boulevard project, the city of Spearfish will be getting an extra dose of decorative distinction as well as improving the Jackson Boulevard bridge, but the improvements will cost the city at least one more summer of construction.

City Engineer Kyle Mathis presented several design plans for a gateway sign at Exit 12 to the Spearfish City Council Monday.

“The thought was to get a feel of coming in like you’re entering the Canyon,” he said.

The design features stacked rocks and boulders and several types of deciduous trees that will mimic the overall aesthetic of Spearfish Canyon. The gateway sign itself will be made to resemble the horizon of Crow Peak, which will also be visible from that direction.

“We thought that was a nice little compliment there,” Mathis added.

Mathis also presented landscaping and design plans for the Jackson-Ames roundabout, which will continue the woodland theme and showcase a rock-riddled green space at its center.

“Anywhere they can fit a little landscaping they’ll try to do that to really get the greenery in and around the roundabout,” he said.

Another aspect to the Phase 2 plans is renovating the Jackson Boulevard bridge.

“In our scope we were asked to make a few bridge enhancements,” Mathis said. “We started looking at bridge railing and it kind of snowballed into several other improvements.”

Along with repaving the section of road that passes over the bridge, improvements will include updating the street light fixtures and pedestrian railing, replacing the traffic guard, and covering the bridge with a protective coating to extend the life of the bridge.

Mathis explained that $70,000 was factored into the Phase 2 Jackson Boulevard project budget for the bridge improvements. However, it was later discovered by the design committee that the improvements could be covered under the South Dakota Department of Transportation’s bridge improvement grant (BIG) program. The BIG program splits the cost of most bridge improvements with the city.

Mathis said that the Jackson Boulevard bridge is in good condition, and all the improvements he mentioned were meant to improve the lifespan of the bridge as well as make it fit the new aesthetic of Jackson Boulevard once construction is complete. However, in order to be approved for the BIG program, the entire bridge will need to be brought up to current code standards, which will increase the number of improvements needed.

“Once you start removing anything on that bridge, it requires everything that’s outdated to be updated to code,” he said.

Mathis estimated that to bring every element of the bridge up to modern code would cost approximately $250,000, with a cost to the city of $61,000.

The issue Mathis brought to the council’s attention was the timing of the application process. The earliest construction could begin on the bridge going through the BIG program would be in late spring of 2021.

“That would be coming on just as Phase 2 would be getting wrapped up,” he said. “The concern I have is the review process going through the South Dakota Department of Transportation and their bidding process and the lead times for this specialty railing.”

Mathis reminded the council that because elements of the bridge remodel would have to be specially manufactured, there could be a three-to-six-month time gap between when Phase 2 finishes and bridge improvements can begin. Once the improvements begin, Mathis estimated two-to-three-months of construction and at least a 20-30 year life extension for the bridge.

Mayor Dana Boke summarized the debate.

“So the decision is do we pay in full ourselves and reduce, (the improvements made) and not extend the construction time, or do we go after the (BIG) grant and possibly go into a third (construction) season,” she proposed to the council.

City Administrator Mike Harmon pointed out to the council that working through the BIG program would actually reduce the city’s commitment to the project by $9,000.

A motion was made by Councilman Larry Klarenbeek to accept the option to apply for the BIG program and passed with only Councilman Dan Hodgs voting against it.

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