BROOKINGS – The ground has been laid: the long-awaited 20th Street South/Interstate 29 interchange project is officially underway.
The first phase of construction began on April 18, and for many who had had a vision for this project for years, it was a surreal feeling.
The City of Brookings and Brookings County, along with entities such as the South Dakota Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration, commissioned several studies that all justified the construction of the interchange at South 20th Street (and not the South 32nd Street overpass as some might say). assumed). Benefits included safety and efficacy, as well as future development opportunities.
Businesses on the east side of the freeway saw trends that supported results.
“It was difficult for employees with children at home or at school to efficiently access their homes from work,” said Al Kurtenbach, co-founder of Daktronics. “They should go down Sixth Street to 22nd. It was difficult for employees to engage with their families during the day. »
And so, the South 20th Street site was decided.
An informal committee has been formed to continue the effort to bring a new interchange to Brookings. Committee members included Al Heuton, Keith Corbett, Daryl Englund, Van Fishback, Al Kurtenbach and Lee Ann Pierce. This committee of public and private sector leaders has been key to the project’s success, local officials say.
When the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant became available, the committee wrote a request for funds to design and build the interchange. The grant was refused on its first attempt, but the committee wrote a second application for BUILD, which was accepted.
The success of the second application had a few imperative elements. One was the public-private partnership to finance the project. The grant requirements called for a certain percentage of the project to be privately funded. Van Fishback has personally committed over $700,000 to the project, while Brookings County and the City of Brookings have agreed to contribute $2 million each. Fishback recognized this project as a great example of what a public-private partnership should look like.
“Although we worked closely as an ad hoc committee, a lot of credit can be given to Lee Ann Pierce with the county and Keith Corbett with the city,” Fishback said. “Both people have been supportive not only in their public statements, but in their ability to gain support to donate financially. Al Heuton was also a great champion of this project – he wrote both grant applications, which took a lot of time, research and effort.
Additionally, the group received significant assistance from the office of Senator John Thune. With his support, along with Senator Mike Rounds and Rep. Dusty Johnson, the grant was successful.
“I commend the City of Brookings for their commitment and dedication to making this project a reality,” Thune said. “Once completed, this new arterial connection will support the city’s economy and provide new opportunities for growth and development.
The City of Brookings continued to work with HDR, which subcontracted the design work to Banner Associates. Bids were put out and Bowes Construction was chosen as the prime contractor for the $15.3 million project.
Tim Reed, CEO and Chief Economic Development Officer of the Brookings Economic Development Corporation, has big plans for Brookings once the project is complete.
“The interchange will bring business growth and improved connectivity as Brookings continues to grow south and east. When completed, it will be a game-changer for Brookings’ economy,” Reed said.
Construction of the bridge structure and all grading operations are expected to be completed in 2022, with surfacing and final project completion scheduled for July 14, 2023. Questions regarding the interchange project can be directed to the municipal engineer Charles Richter.
The City of Brookings will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the project at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 11 at South 20th Street. All are invited to attend the celebration and hear from the stakeholders of the project.