$25 million budget shortfall for Rapid City roads, bridges

Posted: Updated:

A recently released report indicates the amount of money needed to repair and maintain streets in Rapid City substantially exceeds the amount allocated.

Last Wednesday, March 15, city engineers presented a report to Rapid City’s legal and finance committee, detailing the estimated costs of repairing and maintaining city streets. The report projects an annual cost of nearly $38 million. That number is raising concerns for members of the common council, which only budgeted $13 Million for upkeep in 2017.

Several city roads are more than 25 years old and many only have an estimated 50-year lifespan. Some proposed solutions include taking funding from other departments, drawing from the city's Vision Fund or imposing a one percent sales tax.

Ward 3 alderman Jerry Wright, who has championed infrastructure improvements during his tenure in office, says, "What standard does this community want their streets to be maintained, right now they are unhappy the way they are maintained, and I would say we are on or near failure in a lot of cases, we are headed in that direction and I think that’s unacceptable.

“I think to maintain them at a proper level, this is probably the level we need to be at, but can we tolerate a few more bumps or stuff, I don't know, that discussion needs to occur."

City communications director Darrell Shoemaker says the majority of the city’s funds go toward fixing day to day potholes, patchwork and working on larger projects. Replacing major roads includes long-term planning and study.

"If the car pulled up today and said here is a chunk of money or if someone showed up with a blank check and said you know how much do you need, yes, the need might be about 25 million dollars,” said Shoemaker. “But it's not really a realistic amount of money that we would spend in the next year, two years, even three years because it's got to be all charted out."

Projected tax revenue will determine any budgetary increases allotted for street and bridge repair.

The City Council discussed the issue at the Monday, March 20, meeting, where people from the community shared their concerns. However no decisions were reached. NewsCenter1 will keep you updated as the issue progresses.

Today's Forecast