Dramatically dropping the weight limit on a bridge that provides the only way in or out to dozens of homes east of Rapid City is putting a serious hardship on residents, who are finding it difficult to get water, garbage service or anything that requires a heavy truck.
The Bradsky Road bridge past the airport off state Highway 44 was inspected in November by the South Dakota Department of Transportation. Because of the bridge's deterioration, the weight limit was dropped from 24 tons to just six tons.
"It was a drastic, unexpected change that kind of caught us and everybody by surprise," said Pennington County assistant highway superintendent Mark Schock.
That means garbage trucks, ambulances, school buses or even pickup trucks carrying heavy loads exceed the weight limit.
If they cross the bridge, they risk being liable if the bridge breaks. This is creating a multitude of problems for the residents on the other side.
"There are school buses that go across this bridge, propane trucks to fill propane and people hauling water to their houses," said Nikki Kruse, a homeowner who lives in one of the affected subdivisions. "I'm quite concerned about this collapsing or something happening."
Garbage trucks will no longer cross the bridge, so one company set up dumpsters on the other side of the bridge. The residents now have to haul their trash sometimes several miles to the dumpsters.
Nikki's husband, Rick Kruse, said people would be surprised by how many people are inconvenienced.
"Most people think, 'Oh it's out past the airport; not that many people live out there,'" he said.
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But that's not the case. There are at least two housing developments and many more homes with land.
"This is a very busy road," Rick Kruse said as he stood near the bridge Thursday. "You can see there is consistent traffic."
Schock said the bridge is scheduled for reconstruction this year.
The estimated cost of the bridge work is $776,000. The state will pay 80 percent of the cost, and the county will pay the rest. The DOT is administering the program, so it will advertise for bids and award the contract.
Schock said he wasn't sure where the state is in that process, but the bridge design and everything the county is required to do is complete.
In the meantime, though, Schock and county officials are trying to find a temporary solution.
"We're very concerned about the fact that there are dangers and that people can't get services," he said.
He said there are several options, including temporary repairs to the bridge, taking it down to one lane, or making a temporary detour.
The bridge is on the agenda for the Pennington County Commission meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday.