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More Bridges Falling Apart Under Noem

Six years ago, the South Dakota Legislature approved spending $85 million more each year to patch up South Dakota’s crumbling roads and bridges. Under Dennis Daugaard’s attentive stewardship of that new revenue, South Dakota made fair progress in reducing the percentage of its bridges that were structurally deficient.

Alas, Governor Kristi Noem appears to be not quite as attentive to building bridges. We still a lower percentage of rickety bridges than we did before the great Vehle-Daugaard road tax increase of 2015, but that percentage is climbing again:

American Road and Transportation Builders Association, National Bridge Inventory: South Dakota, retrieved 2021.09.19.
American Road and Transportation Builders Association, National Bridge Inventory: South Dakota, retrieved 2021.09.19.

Governor Noem’s latest weekly propaganda piece professes her commitment to being smart with taxpayer dollars. Wouldn’t it be smart to sustain the momentum from the Daugaard Administration and keep up with bridge reapirs?

But hey—Kristi doesn’t need bridges to fly to her fundraisers in Florida and Texas and Arkansas. She’s too busy troubling the waters to make sure we folks back home can get across the Big Sioux or the Mighty Mog.


  1. larry kurtz 2021-09-19 09:28

    In South Dakota infrastructure suffers to prop up the state’s retirement system.

    The ‘Singing Bridge’ was built in 1963 across the Grand River where it meets the Missouri River and on Feb. 20 the South Dakota Department of Transportation closed it because of observed failures after girders contracted at one pier cap and damaged a pillar due to the recent extreme cold temperatures.

    According to Jeanne Weigum, in the “bad old days” those wanting to get to Mobridge from Wakpala or from homesites on that side of the river, if they did not want to drive “the long way,” would either drive through the shallow Grand River or drive on the ice in the winter. It is about three-fourths of a mile long and part of the three-bridge combination that gave Mobridge its designation. According to Jeanne, the bridge got its unique moniker, The Singing Bridge, because when it was first built it made a distinct and spooky humming sound when you drove over it. My dad would make up stories about the spirits singing to us as we crossed the bridge. It was a part of my childhood. [KATIE ZERR: ‘Singing Bridge’ is vital to community]

    So, at a price of some $50 million the red moocher state chose an Iowa builder to replace the bridge across the Missouri River between Fort Pierre and the cesspool on the east side. Built in 1962, it was deemed the existing span is structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. Maybe it will open by 2023.

  2. Mark Anderson 2021-09-19 11:20

    Well everyone, she is getting by on a wing (a plane), and a prayer (in schools). A trumpie is hardly a bridge builder.

  3. John 2021-09-19 13:15

    Meanwhile noem and her minions in Pierre pretend to run a budget surplus (of course thanks to federal dollars that they grouse about with their mouths full of green).

  4. Guy 2021-09-19 14:59

    John, Kristi successfully played that game before with Stephanie in 2010. Stephanie supported President Obama’s Stimulus that brought in much needed dollars for South Dakota following the Great Recession of 2008. Kristi turned around and used it against Stephanie in the 2010 Campaign as if Stephanie did something sinful. However, Kristi was more than proud of taking credit for balancing the state budget as a legislator with that same stimulus money. Kristi seems to have gotten away with playing that game again.

  5. O 2021-09-19 17:34

    In a word where successful governance has no place in campaigning – it just take time away from inflammatory, divisive social warfare – none of this matters. Additionally, the GOP is against government, so any successes of government only help to prove the central tenant of their party wrong.

    There is a Seussean logic to it all.

  6. ArloBlundt 2021-09-19 18:13

    Well…O is right…the failure and closing of a “vital, long span bridge across the Missouri is certainly a failure of the Noem administration and preceding Republican administrations. The bridge is over 50 years old and that’s the life expectancy of steel bridges, even with regular maintenance, which this bridge apparently lacked. Its why we employ Highway Engineers. Is the Noem administration saying, “Well, its only Mobridge and it connects with a reservation, not a priority.”

  7. grudznick 2021-09-19 19:06

    Mr. Blundt I think that highway was “shut down” by the tribes. Plus, nobody really believes highway engineers. You should know this well.

  8. larry kurtz 2021-09-19 19:36

    Mrs. Noem burns bridges to places like Wakpala because it raises more dollars than building them to disadvantaged communities.

    When she was in the Legislature Kristi made an intern in a foot cast go start her car in a blizzard. You really think she cares about reaching out to tribal neighbors or even composing her own tweets?

  9. ArloBlundt 2021-09-19 21:42

    Grudz–your argument is weak with me…the Indian protest highway closure has absolutely nothing to do with neglecting maintenance of an important bridge….and I have had several friends who were highway engineers and I found them to be very rational , dedicated, and trustworhy. We have two Universities in South Dakota that train civil engineers.The Highway Department in South Dakota is highly politicized by the governing State Highway Commission.Put your blame where it belongs.

  10. Austin Dreyer 2021-09-19 22:45

    Larry Kurtz
    Your argument is wrong. The Pierre Bridge Replacement has been under study for years at least 2014. Plus the Singing Bridge has passed prior Recent Inspections.

  11. ArloBlundt 2021-09-20 15:32

    Well…Cory and Mr. Dreyer, Yes, the DOT did get up to Mobridge to repair the Singing Bridge AFTER IT FAILED. My question is, “Why did we defer maintenance on a vital bridge over the Missouri, linking Mobridge to its trading area, until it had failed?” “We’ll fix it when it breaks” is terrible governance.

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