Highway 46: The Next Step

Work is set to begin next week on the next phase of a project that will fundamentally change a large stretch of Highway 46 forever.

In a press release from the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) received by the Press & Dakotan this week, it was announced that work is set to begin on the next portion of an ongoing project east of Irene Tuesday, April 6.

The $11.3 million project consists of shoulder widening, structures, pipe work, spot grading, mill and asphalt surfacing. Central Specialties of Alexandria, Minnesota is the prime contractor for this project.

SDDOT Area Engineer Rod Gall told the Press & Dakotan that a few detours will be necessary.

“Next week, we’ll be closing part of (Highway 46) between Highway 19 going to Viborg and 19A going to Centerville,” he said. “There’s going to be a detour that’s going to have you go around to Highway 19A to Centerville.”

He said some of the work will require full road closures.

“We’re widening the shoulders and we are also putting in a box culvert and some pipes in there,” he said. “That’s why we’re closing it for now. … Once the shoulder widening is done there, they’re going to move in between Irene and Highway 19 and we’re going to close off the road there because we have some grading sections where we’re taking some little hills out and filling some valleys in.”

Gall said that the plan is to have everything done on the current project by early September.

The Highway 46 project had long been contingent on the reopening of Highway 18 to the north which encountered a number of delays during its reconstruction.

Gall said that project has finally been finished.

“Highway 18 was completed early last year,” he said. “It’s back to where it was prior, only it’s a lot wider.”

According to Gall, this summer’s project on Highway 46 near Irene is only the next phase in a major ongoing project.

“There’s four total projects on 46,” he said. “We finished the grading part where we widened the shoulders — that was from Highway 19A to the interstate. That we are going to overlay this year with a new mat, and that will start sometime this summer. We haven’t heard yet when that will be able to start. Traffic will be able to go on it, it’s just going to have a pilot car.”

He said that future phases will see major changes along the highway from its intersection with Highway 81 north of Yankton all the way to the Iowa state line.

“We will be closing Highway 46 from Highway 81 to Irene next year to start the full grading on that,” he said. “Once that is complete — and it will be a two-year project, for sure — we will then start on the fourth project, which will be from Beresford to the Iowa border, and that will also be a two-year project with paving to follow.”

Gall said that, in addition to bringing the highway up to a more modern standard, the project will ultimately make the roadway much safer.

“We’re taking out a lot of the little dips and hills and filling the valleys up,” he said. “You’ll have a lot better sight distance as you’re traveling. Plus, everything’s going to have eight-foot shoulders for the entire length, so if you’ve got car trouble and you have to pull off somewhere, it’ll be a little safer than it is now.”

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