Ceremony to mark bridge’s beginning

Ceremony to mark bridge's beginning Construction work is in progress on a bridge that will span the Missouri River from Vermillion to Newcastle, NE. In the above photo, taken about two weeks ago, workers are driving pilings on the Nebraska side of the river and in the interim, it has been reported that this work has now been completed and cement will be poured to complete the first support of the bridge. by M. Jill Karolevitz There are no more road blocks, no more negotiations, no more waiting for design work. The Newcastle/Vermillion bridge project is under way.

To mark the beginning of construction, a groundbreaking ceremony will be held Saturday, July 22 starting at 10:30 a.m. Festivities will open with a ceremonial turning of the dirt at the beginning of the new road leading to the bridge at the junction of Highway 50 and Timber Road on the west edge of Vermillion near Holmes�s Welding. The 185th Fighter Squadron of the Air National Guard in Sioux City, IA, will also fly over the site.

From there, the ceremony will move to the National Guard Armory, 603 Princeton

Street in Vermillion, at 11 a.m. for comments by U.S. Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota and U.S. Congressman Doug Bereuter of Nebraska, along with other dignitaries. A complimentary lunch, provided by the Newcastle/Vermillion Bridge Committee and prepared by Texas Bar-B-Que will be served at noon.

Free buttons to commemorate the ceremony will be given to all in attendance. Cast medallions will also be for sale.

�The groundbreaking will be a very special event that I�m looking forward to,� said Dr. Jim Green, Vermillion, a member of the Newcastle/Vermillion Bridge Committee. �I truly appreciate all the people who have worked hard to get us to this point. This bridge is a landmark that we�ve waited for for a long time. It will open up a whole new area for us, both in South Dakota and Nebraska.�

In total, the cost of the Newcastle/Vermillion bridge is estimated at $23.1 million. Eighty percent of that comes from federal funds, with South Dakota and Nebraska splitting the remaining 20 percent. Included in the price tag have been numerous studies � from feasibility to the environmental and economical impact of the structure.

Allocations of the federal funds have come over a period of several years, with support from congressional delegations from both South Dakota and Nebraska. The Newcastle/Vermillion Bridge Committee also raised thousands of dollars locally to help fund the initial feasibility study.

Jensen Construction of Des Moines, IA, a veteran of several Missouri River bridge projects, including the Chief Standing Bear bridge near Springfield, was awarded the contract to build the bridge structure and approach from the South Dakota side. The company�s bid was $11.5 million. Anderson Construction of Mapleton, IA, won the contract to build the Nebraska approach to the bridge with its bid of $1.97 million.

Since the 1930s, both South Dakota and Nebraska officials have lobbied for a bridge over the Missouri River in this region. Throughout the years, the economic benefits of a bridge have long been part of the construction plans.

�Many people are looking upon the construction of this bridge as a gateway to new business opportunities,� said Randy Harper, of the Vermillion Development Company, when interviewed by the Plain Talk in June of 1998. In a news release dated March 24, 1998, both U.S. Senators Johnson and Tom Daschle of South Dakota made similar comments.

�The construction of the Newcastle/Vermillion bridge would play a critical role in facilitating regional economic development and would greatly enhance the educational, recreational and cultural opportunities for several thousand area residents,� Johnson said.

�I have never wavered from the belief that this bridge will enrich the lives of those living on both sides of the river,� Daschle added. �It will certainly foster economic development in the region.�

U.S. Congressman Bereuter has also been supportive of the project.

�Communities in the area have remained isolated from each other, despite their proximity,� he said in an April 13 news release. �Economic activity in the region has been hampered and labor and commerce options have been limited. The completion of this bridge will be a significant aid in attracting new businesses in the area.�

In addition to economic benefits, the Newcastle/Vermillion bridge will make shopping and work commutes easier, provide quicker access to medical services and in improve opportunities for higher education, making it easier for students in both Nebraska and South Dakota to cross the river to attend each state�s schools.

The bridge, slated for completion in November of 2001, will be 2,455 feet long and 36 feet wide. The project connects South Dakota Highway 50 near Vermillion, to Nebraska Highway 12 near Newcastle and Maskell, NE.

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