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New grant is giving Badlands National Park a modern way to showcase the ancient land formations


By Scarlett Lisjak

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 6:09 PM MDT

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) -America’s National Parks have been busier since the start of the pandemic and the Badlands are no exception, and more visitors means more revenue. However, what would the Badlands National Park do with an extra couple of million dollars?

Turns out, the Badlands National Park is over due for a new visitor center. Helmsley Charitable Trust Member, Walter Panzirer says the current one is not meeting the parks needs, “the park services told me, year after year they saw increased growth and increased growth, now its time, this visitor center was built in the 1960′s and its way to small.”

Helmsley Charitable Trust announced Monday that they will give a $3.3 million dollar grant to the project. Badland’s Park Superintendent, Mike Pflaunm says along with the large donation, the Badlands Natural History Association, and the Badlands National Park Conservatory will also help turn a dream to a reality.

“These organizations reached out and when they came aware that plans were happening, and basically came to us and said we would like to be part of it,” Pflaunm said.

Panzirer adds, the new center will give visitors all the modern conveniences while they learn about the past, “the visitor center is a launching point for the park, this is where the visitors get their first park experience, so its real important to have a modern visitor center, that’s ADA compliant, and also large enough to accommodate the groups, and tell the cultural history of the Lakota people here.”

And this comes at just the right time, Pflaunm says the park has seen enormous growth, “we had a banner year of visitation this year, despite the pandemic, we had one of the busiest years in recent decades and people love their parks and rightfully so, parks are great places for education, recreation, spiritual renewal and fresh air.”

Preliminary designs will start in the coming months, and will be an ongoing process.


Downtown Rapid City Parking Lot to be Converted into Apartments, Businesses, and Hospitality

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Block 5, a new construction project in Downtown Rapid City featuring apartments, businesses, and hospitality.

“Downtown has a lot of really cool historic buildings and Rapid City’s unique because they’ve brought the amenities with Main Street Square and all the restaurants and all the bars, and there’s a lot of really good activity but we don’t have the living and that’s the thing that this is going to add,” says Jake Quasney from Lloyd Companies.

The five-story project will be taking over the existing parking lot on St. Joseph Street between fifth and sixth street.

When finished it will house around 85 apartments, an underground parking garage, and a connection to a Hyatt hotel.

But more importantly, the businesses it will bring in.

“We want the right businesses to come along and essentially partner with us in the atmosphere that we’re trying to create is really contributing to the activity of downtown,” says Quasney. “So things that are going to drive traffic and make people want to be there or something a little bit unique in the sense that it offers something different and a place that people want to go, adds to the destination feel of the development and just that area.”

Quasney says the development won’t just improve that part of town.. but the more than 40 million dollar project will improve the downtown area as a whole

“We see vibrant communities, that vibrant downtown, where people want to be and businesses want to be there and just attracts more people. So we hope to be apart of that and this is just our first investment in downtown Rapid City and first of many,” says Quasney.

Llyod companies still have some details to iron out, but estimate the start of construction later this summer.

Copyright 2021 KOTA. All rights reserved.


Local Companies Working on New $50 Million Bridge

By Del Bartels del.bartels@capjournal.com Nov 20, 2020 Updated Nov 20, 2020

During the informational open house Thursday in Pierre, officials discussed the construction of the new bridge over the Missouri River connecting Pierre and Fort Pierre.

With a current estimated cost of $50 million, the project is contracted to Jensen Construction Company based in Des Moines, Iowa. Tristan Weaver is the project superintendent. Of the many subcontractors, eight are based in South Dakota. Of those, five are based in Pierre or Fort Pierre. According to Ryan Cheeseman with Jensen Construction, the local subcontractors are:

Anderson Contractors, Inc. — Fort Pierre/Pierre,

Brosz Engineering, Inc. — Pierre,

East Pierre Landscape — Pierre,

Morris Inc. — Fort Pierre/Pierre,

Word Reclamation, Pierre,

Dakota Traffic Services — Tea,

Muth Electric — Mitchell, and

Project Solutions — Rapid City.

Underwater work has already begun, according to Denae Johnson, project coordinator with Project Solutions Inc. Substructure work includes placing drilled shafts for the foundation.

Above-water work should begin in April 2021.

Being constructed just 10 feet upriver from the current bridge, the new one will feature the same name — the Lt. Cmdr. John C. Waldron Bridge — as the current 58-year-old bridge. The new four-lane traffic bridge will be more than 1,686 feet long, almost 78 feet wide, and is expected to be completed before 2024. The single pedestrian walkway, on the down-river side, will be 12 feet wide, with two watch-ways jutting out another 8 feet.

Phase 1 of the project is approach and bridge work;

Phase 2 is westbound lane construction;

Phase 3 is eastbound lane construction;

Phase 4 is construction of the Pierre and Fort Pierre plazas on each shore, as well as deconstruction of the old bridge.

Architectural lighting, different from lighting the way for traffic or for pedestrians and cyclists, is meant to illuminate the bridge itself, on top and underneath.

Boat traffic on the Missouri River will remain open, though people must keep a safe distance from all equipment. The water level of the Missouri River below the Oahe Dam will not be lowered for construction.