SD: Sly Hill Road Sturgis Project

Nominee: Innovative Management – Small Project
Sly Hill Road Sturgis Project
Sturgis, SD

“The project was able to be finished in a timely fashion because of good cooperation among the City of Sturgis, DOT, federal government, state Archaeological Research Center, tribal monitors, and the contractors. The contractor geared up, had a good game plan, and attacked the work very efficiently.”

John Gerlach, lead project engineer
Rapid City DOT

The repair of Sturgis Road, which was closed by a landslide in May 2009, involved several innovations:

  1. The repair, overseen by the South Dakota Department of Transportation, was accomplished with a ground-anchor retaining wall, a first for the Rapid City DOT office and possibly for the whole state, according to John Gerlach, lead project engineer for the DOT.
  2. It was also the first DOT project to have tribal monitors on hand from start to finish to ensure the appropriate preservation of Native American archaeological resources, in this case, rock art.

The wall was constructed of soldier piles (steel I-beams) embedded 35 feet in the ground along the length of the wall, with wood lagging placed between the I-beams to make up the face of the retaining wall. The area behind the wall, where the roadway had slid, was backfilled with granular material. Cable ground anchors were installed through the front of the wall and embedded into the roadway embankment behind it for 60 feet. The total length of the wall is 150 feet.

The other challenge, Gerlach said, was the discovery of a series of large rocks, with art etched into them, which had been placed by Native Americans in a pattern based on astronomy. Terry Keller, environmental supervisor in the office of project development for DOT, said tribal monitors were on hand to assure that the construction did not further disturb the Native American rock art.

Work on the project began Nov. 9, 2009 and was completed in 26 working days, four days ahead of schedule. The road was reopened to traffic on Dec. 16, 2009. The project also came in $1,600 under its $414,851 bid cost.

SD: Sly Hill Road Sturgis Project

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