The Pine Street bridge is the last historic structure of its kind to cross Marne Creek, and it is likely to be replaced within the next few years.
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.
Built in 1912, the Pine Street bridge is a 41-foot, single-span, deck, concrete arch structure with classical revival detailing that crosses Marne Creek in a residential neighborhood. The railings consist of spindle-shaped balusters set off by concrete posts ornamented with recessed panels.
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. Brosz Engineering of Sioux Falls has studied the bridge for the City of Yankton and deemed it structurally deficient and in need of replacement.
Recently, the South Dakota Transportation Commission awarded an $854,904.60 Bridge Improvement Grant to the City of Yankton to be used toward the anticipated $1,424,842 replacement of the Pine Street bridge.
The structure has been on my mind recently because I met with a group of people representing various historic organizations seeking to have a voice in the bridge’s future as part of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit process. They had good questions, reasonable expectations and together represented a passionate voice that has spearheaded many decades worth of preservation efforts within our community. Of course, if possible, they would like to see the bridge renovated. At the very least, they are requesting that the City of Yankton provide acknowledgement of the current bridge’s historic legacy in a new project design.
Because of the condition of the bridge, I am doubtful that renovation is possible. 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.
We’ll see what the future holds. The City of Yankton plans to seek input from the aforementioned historic groups as the engineering process continues.
All that being said, I thought you might enjoy this excerpt from the Pine Street bridge nomination for the National Register of Historic Places:
By the early 1910s, reinforced concrete came into use in South Dakota for the construction of bridges. The earliest concrete bridges in South Dakota were built in the southeastern portion of the state, and many, if not all of these structures were professionally designed. However, while the construction of steel bridges had been monopolized by out-of-state firms. These same out-of-state steel bridge companies never seemed to monopolize the concrete bridge building market. Instead, many local contractors successfully competed in this aspect of the bridge building business.
In February 1912, the Yankton City Council condemned a deteriorating bridge over Rhine Creek (soon to be renamed Marne Creek) at Pine Street, “declaring the necessity for the construction of a new bridge at said place and directing the Mayor to borrow funds with which to defray the cost of making such improvement.” That same month, the council approved for the site a concrete-arch plan prepared by city engineer Hugh C. Liebe, who had essentially the same design a year earlier at Walnut Street. Two months later, the council awarded a $3,700 construction contract to low bidders Arthur Ellerman and Dan McLain, local contractors who had built the Walnut Street Bridge. Ellerman and McLain completed the project in September 1912.