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HILL CITY | Years have gone into the planning for a new sidewalk project in Hill City.

It's a simple, yet complicated project, said city administrator Brett McMacken. “There’s a lot to it, more than what people would think, but actually at the end of the day, it is a fairly simple sidewalk project,” McMacken said. “But it does have a few curveballs thrown in there."

Plans are in the works to reconfigure the sidewalk in front of downtown businesses on the west side of Hill City’s Main Street. That side of the street features an upper sidewalk, originally installed decades ago, convenient for delivery trucks to offload goods. There is also a lower walkway for pedestrian traffic.

Between the upper and lower sidewalks is an uneven transition step, ranging from just a few inches to a foot or more in the middle of the block. “It’s a safety concern just because that step is not a uniform height,” McMacken said.

Plans are to widen the upper sidewalk, get rid of the transition step and erect a railing. Access points on either end of the block and one in the middle will provide safer pedestrian access to the businesses. The project will be funded through a combination of city dollars and federal transportation grant funds administered through the South Dakota Department of Transportation.

The city’s portion will be about $70,000, with $340,000 to $360,000 in grant funds.

“Those are kind of floating numbers that may change once we get into the construction phase,” McMacken said. “We’re looking at a $450,000 to $500,000 project when it’s all said and done."

The grants allowed the city to design what the finished sidewall will look like, McMacken said. “The review process between the city and the state DOT is still ongoing. It’s still a state highway, so the state wanted to review it to make sure it still fit its specifications."

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McMacken hopes to let bids on the project in the next couple of months, with construction underway after the bulk of the tourist season ends in October.

"The thought is we can break ground in October and have everything ready for the next tourist season,” he said. “We really don’t want the sidewalk and the hand railing to be the focal point of the block. We really want the wonderful businesses, the structures, the products and services that they offer to be the showcase.

"At the end of the day, you really won’t notice this project went on. You’ll just be able to walk around a lot easier,” he said.

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