Meridian Bridge To Open To Public Tomorrow Afternoon

*** UPDATE 12 p.m. Wednesday ***

This is the story published in the Press & Dakotan today:

After being closed down in October 2008, the Meridian Bridge will once again be open for public use today (Wednesday).

“The contractor will be working until about 2 p.m. (Wednesday) to finish all the work that needs to be done — attaching the wire mesh on the structure’s railing and other items,” said Kevin Heiman of the South Dakota Department of Transportation. “The work that they will have to come back to do next week would probably not interfere with the opening of the structure.”

The bridge, which was built in 1924, was cordoned off when the Discovery Bridge to the west opened to traffic three years ago. The plan was to convert the historic double-decker bridge into a recreational trail.

After funding issues at times appeared to threaten those plans, a $4.8 million contract was eventually awarded to PCiRoads. Work began in the spring of 2010 and was to be complete by November of last year. However, unforeseen deterioration to the bridge necessitated more repairs than originally planned and work continued until now.

Heiman said the public should be able to utilize the structure by 3 p.m. today.

“We’d like to thank everybody for being patient during this long project, and we really hope they enjoy the benefits of the work that has been done,” he said. “With the forecast for Thanksgiving, it will be a great day to walk across the bridge.”

City Manager Doug Russell said he will likely be one of the people crossing the bridge Thursday. The city, which will have ownership of the bridge upon completion, has already placed barriers around the structure to prevent any motorized vehicles from accessing it.

“It’s good to see the bridge open and ready for use,” he said.

Additionally , I came across this realated bit of information in a city memo:

The City of Yankton property on the Nebraska side has been examined by walking in the old trails that are
currently on the property.  A south loop will be created this winter and spring on the south half of the
property.  Next fall and winter a north loop will be added on the north half of the property which will
provide access to the Missouri River shoreline.  These trails will be existing trails but they will be widened
and trees will be trimmed or removed to provide more space side to side and from above also.

*** END UPDATE ***

I just got off the phone with city and state officials, and I’m told the Meridian Bridge will be open to the public late tomorrow afternoon once construction crews wrap up their work.

You may notice the lights on tonight. They will get a test run, and work will continue on the structure after dark.

This is a welcome piece of news. Completion of the bridge has been delayed several times, but will now be open for use over what promises to be a beautiful holiday weekend (for late November anyway).

It sounds like the public can expect it to be open around 3 p.m. tomorrow.

I’d encourage you to take your feet or your bicycle to the bridge while the weather is nice and enjoy this historic structure’s new role as a recreational trail. I’ve walked across it several times, and I can tell you that the view is breathtaking.


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