Posted October 2, 2019 at 8:36 pm

j Big Sioux 09-24-2019 IMG952247001.tif

By Julie Ann Madden

South Dakota Highway 48 was ready to be reopened on Thursday, Sept. 19 — a day ahead of when South Dakota Department of Transportation officials had hoped to — but then Mother Nature deluged the area with rains.

Some cities north and west of Akron received up to several inches of rain. Between Sept. 8 and 12, Sioux Falls, S.D., received more than 14 inches of rain, according to National Weather Service – Sioux Falls’s Observing Program Leader Brad Adams.

On Saturday, Sept. 14, Akron Fire-Rescue Department officials called for people to help restock their sandbag pile as the Big Sioux River began rising.

Area residents and S.D. DOT officials alike groaned in frustration as roadways began closing from Sioux Falls, S.D. to Sioux City.

All plans to reopen S.D. Highway 48 were cancelled as the river inundated the Big Sioux River Valley again.

As The Akron Hometowner began receiving these photographs early last week, S.D. DOT officials were hopeful there wouldn’t be much damage to the S.D. Highway 48 as most roadways were reopened within 48 hours of closing.

But their hopes were dashed as both the new asphalt was damaged along the south shoulder and the concrete section was undermined again.

S.D. DOT Engineer Rod Gall set his sights on reopening this Friday, Oct. 4, and it all looked promising until it began raining on Sunday, Sept. 29. Rainfalls ranged from 0.60” at Centerville, S.D., to 0.01” at Sioux City.

On Sunday evening, weather forecasters began predicting upwards of 2 inches of rain would hit the area Monday and Tuesday.

“Much of Plymouth County will receive upwards of 2 inches, possibly 3 inches in the southeastern part,” said Adams, noting the rain was predicted to start about 9 p.m. Monday and continue much of Tuesday, Oct. 1. “Sioux County is also in the heavier band of precipitation predicted — from 1 inch to upwards of 2 inches toward the southern, southeastern portion of Sioux County.”

All hope is not lost though as Adams said the forecast looks much drier and cooler from Wednesday on — lower 60s by Friday with no precipitation.

“Very fall-ish,” said Adams.

“It’s getting frustrating,” said S.D. Engineer Rod Gall as the S.D. Highway 48 closure nears Oct. 13, which would make a record-setting seven months.

“It’s ready to put asphalt on the shoulder again but (the contractor’s crew) can’t come in until Thursday,” said Gall with a sigh.

“We are trying to get the undermining fixed. We were going to do that (Monday, Sept. 30 and Tuesday, Oct. 1),” he said, “but with the rain coming, the contractor doesn’t want to do it so it looks like that will be delayed until Wednesday (Oct. 2) or Thursday (Oct. 3).”

“As soon as we get the undermining done, I want to get the road opened — even if the asphalt shoulder isn’t done,” said Gall. “All I can tell you — I was hoping to get that opened late this week but I can’t promise you that. Hopefully, next week if it doesn’t open this week.”

“We’re getting close,” he said. “They are worried about the 2 inches of rain but it’s not going to hurt the river any (flood-wise) but it’s what we have to do. We have to build a little dam to hold the slurry in, and that’s all going to be made out of dirt. We’re afraid it’s going to wash all that stuff away again.”

“So we’re going to wait and see what happens Tuesday (Oct. 1) and Wednesday (Oct. 2),” he continued. “By Thursday, we’ll be back at it again. Hopefully, maybe even Wednesday. We’ll see.”

“I’m still trying to get it open this week but I can’t promise you that,” said Gall.

Comments are closed.