New Rural Access Infrastructure Fund (House Bill 1259)

This year the South Dakota Legislature passed HB 1259 which provides a $6,000,000 appropriation for rural access infrastructure improvements ($3 million dollars per year in 2021 and 2022). Each County will receive a portion of the annual allocation which can be used to award funds to townships for the following work expenses:

  • Engineering, hydrological studies, planning, materials, and other costs as necessary to plan for and complete the projects;
  • Construction, rehabilitation, or replacement of small structures located in townships complying with the requirements of this Act;
  • Construction, rehabilitation, or replacement of small structures described in a county highway and bridge improvement plan that are located on county secondary highways.

The fund may not be used on no maintenance roads or minimum maintenance

To be eligible for funding, Townships are required to prepare a Small Structure Improvement Plan. Although additional guidance from the state is expected, the plan will require:

  • One or more maps showing the location of all small structures within the township;
  • The location, width, and length of each small structure;
  • A report on the condition of each small structure;
  • Whether the small structure is posted for load capacity, and if so, what the posted limit is;
  • A list of all projects proposed to be undertaken by the township over the next five years including the location of the project, type of project, source of funding for the project, estimated cost of the project, and the year the project is proposed to be completed; and
  • Such additional items as may be prescribed by the Department of Transportation.

You do not need to hire an engineering consultant to perform the inventory related to the Small Structure Improvement Plan. Engineering and hydrological studies are another matter. You would be well advised to work with professional engineers if necessary, to design, bid, and inspect projects. However, it appears that the inventory elements are not of a technical nature and should not require someone with an engineering degree.

For more than twenty-five years, the First District has been compiling county, township, and other secondary road information for the South Dakota Department of Transportation. It would be a fairly simple task to compile bridge and culvert inventory data, with local cooperation, at a minimal cost. First District would also be able to help your county/township in developing the location maps and a project schedule, as part of a planning document. This activity does assume local cooperation.

First District’s web-based GIS software is an easy way for townships and counties to collect and update data for bridges, culverts, signs, and even pavement management. It is a simple to use app that works on a cell phone and allows you to take accurate locations of these structures and add additional information, like the data needed for House Bill 1259. It is as easy as clicking a button and typing the information in and can be used on mobile devices or PCs.

Please email Ryan Hartley at ryan@1stdistrict.org or call First District at 605-882-5115 if you have questions or would like to see a live demonstration.

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