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Aging Yankton's Legacy to Live on in New Bridge

The 41-ft. (12.5 m), single-span, deck, concrete arch structure with classical revival detailing was originally built in 1912.

Fri August 26, 2016 - Midwest Edition #18

When the bridge was built in 1912, construction cost $3,700, which is about $90,000 in today's standards.
When the bridge was built in 1912, construction cost $3,700, which is about $90,000 in today's standards.

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) Structurally, the 104-year-old Pine Street Bridge over Marne Creek in Yankton cannot be maintained much longer and is in need of replacement.

However, with the efforts of area leaders, the legacy of Yankton's oldest bridge may live on in its eventual replacement, the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan reported.

In April, the city of Yankton was awarded a part of the South Dakota Transportation Commission Bridge Improvement Grant (BIG) to help with costs associated with replacing the aging Pine Street Bridge. The state awarded $855,000 with the city currently slated to contribute $640,000.

The 41-ft. (12.5 m), single-span, deck, concrete arch structure with classical revival detailing was originally built in 1912 and features railings consisting of spindle-shaped balusters set off by concrete posts ornamented with recessed panels. When the bridge was built in 1912, construction cost $3,700, which is about $90,000 in today's standards.

Yankton City Manager Amy Nelson told the Press & Dakotan the city was required to look into the historical nature of the bridge before moving forward.

“Part of the process with the DOT [South Dakota Department of Transportation] is that we have to do a 404 permit, which basically studies the history of the bridge and determines the architectural character, value and makes sure we've thoroughly documented and researched what that structure meant historically and architecturally in our community,' Nelson said.

The city asked local leaders including Crystal Nelson of the Dakota Territorial Museum and Yankton County Preservation Commission to research the bridge. In recent weeks, Amy Nelson, City Commissioner Nathan Johnson and Public Works Director Adam Haberman came together to discuss options for the bridge.

“[We] asked, 'Are there ways, knowing that the bridge isn't salvageable, that we can honor the architecture and history of that bridge, still being able to rebuild it and put the [Auld-Brokaw] trail underneath it?' the City Manager said.

Johnson, told the Press & Dakotan that the bridge is the last remnant of an era in the city.

“The Pine Street bridge is the last historic structure of its kind to cross Marne Creek,' Johnson said. “A very similar bridge along Walnut Street — dating from 1911 — was demolished in 1999. Other historic bridges met their fate earlier, such as the Capital Street bridge.'

He added that the bridge's age is quickly catching up with it.

“For several years, the Pine Street bridge has had load limits so restrictive that school buses, snow plows, garbage trucks and even lighter trucks cannot cross the structure,' he said. “Brosz Engineering of Sioux Falls has studied the bridge for the city of Yankton and deemed it structurally deficient and in need of replacement.'

The bridge is currently limited to loads under 10 tons.

Nelson said the city has been in contact with Brosz Engineering about possibly designing a bridge that's representative of the historic structure.

“We've talked with our engineers and they're going to take a look at some enhancements that could be made that — I don't want to say would 'recreate' the bridge — historic Pine Street bridge that's there.'

Johnson said, while it's hard to destroy a piece of history, he's hopeful for a structure that carries on the original bridge's architectural legacy and has seen some support for it.

“Because of the condition of the bridge, I am doubtful that renovation will be possible,' he said. “As someone who has a deep appreciation for history and has enjoyed delving into Yankton's rich past, that's painful for me to say. However, I am hopeful that we can work some nice features into a new bridge project that are befitting of the current Pine Street crossing. At least a couple of my peers on the Yankton City Commission expressed the same desire during a recent capital improvement project budget session. It's an issue we will revisit as the design process moves forward.'

He added there are some options that can be added to the bridge to give it a historic feel.

“Hopefully, we will have some options to look at, such as including decorative balusters modeled upon the current ones on the bridge,' he said. “Of course, cost will have to be a factor in these considerations. Also discussed has been a plaque talking about the history of the bridge and perhaps includes a picture of it. The Dakota Territorial Museum has a photo of people standing on the bridge as flood waters rise in Marne Creek, for example.'

Nelson expects that enhancements to recapture the bridge's historic nature will add to the estimated cost of the bridge.

“We haven't talked to the commission yet, so any additional features probably won't be part of the grant,' she said. “We'll see what the engineers come back with. They'll have some estimates and then we'll take them to the commission, see if they're interested in investing in those for the Pine Street bridge in our capital budget going forward.'

Estimates on enhanced design features are expected to be presented to the commission sometime in the next month. The project is expected to be bid in late fall with construction beginning next year.

“Anytime we can honor the history of our community — whether that's in our infrastructure or in our downtown — I think that's important,' she said. “I think it speaks to the kind of people and community we are. Our history is a rich one — when we can preserve it, we should. When we can restore it, we want to, and if we can honor it or educate people about it, we need to.'

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