Minnehaha highway department leader says last winter most difficult ever
Superintendent Steve Groen presented the 2023 Highway Department Briefing on Tuesday, April 4, to Minnehaha County commissioners at their regular meeting.
SIOUX FALLS — As the Minnehaha County Highway Department begins preparing for projects this spring and summer, Superintendent Steve Groen said this past winter was arguably the “most difficult we’ve ever faced.”
With snowfall pushing 70 inches and the first snowfall on Nov. 29, he said there were numerous problems keeping roads open.
While county roads are open, Groen said there are still a few drifts in the northern part of the county where they had the most difficulties this winter.
Groen presented the 2023 Highway Department Briefing on Tuesday, April 4, to Minnehaha County commissioners at their regular meeting.
Farmers in the area were helpful this year, he said, as they helped pull stranded county vehicles from ditches and even allowed the county to park some snow blowers in their sheds so they didn’t have to be transported back to Sioux Falls.
He said employees had only 19 days off since that first snowfall on Nov 29.
Roads and bridges
Looking ahead, Groen said road and bridge projects are heavily dependent on state and federal funding, He just recently received word from the state that grants would be awarded for three of the requested eight bridges that need work in the county.
Two will be replaced and one will be rehabilitated.
Slated for work are bridges north of town on Highway 122 over the Big Sioux River north of Sioux Falls, a township bridge southeast of Dell Rapids and a bridge on Highway 130 near Valley Springs and the Minnesota state line.
Groen said they are working with the SRF Consulting Co. of Minnesota on securing funding from the major federal infrastructure bill approved last year by Congress for more bridge work this year.
The highway superintendent said bridge construction pricing continues to rise, as it has statewide, because of the lack of contractors bidding on projects. Thus, he said two bridge project bids had to be rejected so far this year.
Two other major county highway projects have been bid and approved. They are reconstruction of Highway149 south of Colton and a bridge replacement near Tri-Valley school near Colton.
The county is also joining with the city for an intersection improvement project on Marion Road and Highway 130. That project will be bid in May.
More from highway department
The department moved into its new headquarters in January but Groen said there are a few kinks that the contractor is currently working to fix. Also the design is continuing on a 25,000-square-foot cold storage building that will mean all of the older buildings on the highway department campus will be removed and replaced.
Groen also noted the loss of 29-year veteran employee John Crittenden of Colton, who died on Jan. 3.