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Here are some updates on a few stories that appeared in the Star's previous coverage of Fall River County Commission Meetings. 

Chilson Bridge

The bridge crossing the Michelson Trail on Old Highway 18 between Hot Springs and Edgemont has been closed since mid-2017 due to structural concerns. Residents residing south of the bridge on Old 18 and Rocky Ford Road have raised concerns about their ability to evacuate the area with the bridge out, as well as emergency vehicle access to the area. 

In the February 6 commission meeting, the commission announced an agreement with the state to create an at grade crossing. In the agreement, the state would fund 80% of the project with the county providing the remaining 20%. 

During last Tuesday's meeting, head commissioner Joe Falkenberg raised the issue of gaining permission to cross the trail. 

The Mickelson Trail is part of a national phenomena known as railbanking. Long ago, the trail was a railroad line. In the process of railbanking, railroad companies maintain ownership of the corridors of their former lines in case they ever wish to install lines again. While the corridors are vacant, they allow things like trail systems to be built in their place. 

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks is responsible for the maintenance and management of the Mickelson Trail, however the railroad owns the land. In order for an at grade crossing to be built, Fall River County and the state need permission from the railroad company. 

A work order for the at-grade crossing has been drafted, however, the commission is waiting to sign off on it until they gain explicit permission to cross the trail. 

Permission to cross the trail has yet to be granted, however it was reported in the meeting that the state is in talks with the railroad to gain permission. 

County gravel

Also during the February 6 meeting, the commission agreed to compensate KD Construction for lost production due to a safety inspection. The inspection was alleged to have originated with a county commissioner. 

The compensation was granted in form of penalty forgiveness as the company had been late providing some gravel to the county in a contract from last year.

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At the meeting, commissioner Paul Nabholz also questioned whether or not the gravel was meeting the standards set by the original contract, as individual samples seemed to fail to meet specification, while the average of those samples did.  

Greg Vavra, general manager of South Dakota Local Transportation Assistance Program (SDLTAP), was present at the meeting.

According to their website, "SDLTAP translates the latest highway and bridge technology into understandable terms for local government entities throughout the state."

He explained,  due to the nature of gravel and gravel mining, individual samples rarely met specification. He went on to say the aggregate of samples should fall into desired perimeters, as KD's did. 

Vavra added he had seen the mine, gravel piles and some of its placement on Fall River County's roads, "from our perspective, this is good gravel."  

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