I did something this week I've never done before. I watched the City Council's informational meeting on Tuesday afternoon - and I'm glad I did. I learned a lot about the city's oldest bridge.

It's the Eighth Street bridge, located in downtown Sioux Falls, stretching over the Big Sioux River. I also learned it's nearing the end of its lifespan. It's been serving the city day-in and day-out for well over 100 years - since 1912.

Would you also believe at the time it was the most expensive bridge ever built in the area? I learned it cost the city $40-thousand to construct. You can't even have bridge blue-prints drawn up for that nowadays.

Its design is technically known as a "Luten Arch-Style Bridge." It's a patented concrete procedure designed by Daniel Luten, an Indianapolis architect. At the time it was so cutting-edge it came with a five year guarantee that it wouldn't wash away in a flood.

I also learned that since 1993 the bridge has been part of the National Register of Historic Places, which, according to Public Works Director Mark Cotter, means refurbishing the bridge rather than tearing it down is the preferred option.

Cotter said the decision was also made a bit easier after they had consultants come in and conduct a study on the bridge's condition. They all came back with the same findings - that the bridge is structurally sound and a good candidate for refurbishing. Giving the bridge a makeover versus building new will also save the city money.

Cotter said the cost of replacing the bridge would be more than $12-million, resulting iin Eighth Street being closed for at least a year. Rehabbing the bridge, however, will cost between $3.2 million and $4.1 million and only take about five months to complete.

The other good news that came out of the consultants reports is that whether the city decides to rehab the bridge or replace it, it won't matter in terms of longevity. The city will still get the same amount of time out of the bridge - roughly 75 years.

So, if everything goes according to plan and all the necessary parties sign off on the deal, Cotter says the soonest the project could begin is 2019 with hopes of completing it in either 2019 or 2020.

Source: Sioux Falls City Council Information Meeting

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