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“A success story”: officials celebrate Gateway Blvd

By Garrett Ammesmaki,


The City of Tea celebrated the completion of Gateway Boulevard Wednesday, August 24 with a ribbon cutting at Squealer’s Smokestack Bar & Grill.

The rainy Wednesday morning saw speakers that included former mayor John Lawler, current mayor Casey Voelker, Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden, and Senator John Thune, among others.

“This project is a success story,” said Kirk Fredrichs, division administrator with the Federal Highway Administration. “I plan, at least in South Dakota, to use this project as an example on how to do these grant projects in the future, and ensure they are done successfully.”

A large portion of the $14 million Gateway Boulevard project was funded with a United States Department of Transportation grant focused on developing transportation infrastructure. The Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants program covered $8.7 million — roughly 70 percent of the projects total cost.

Senators Thune and Mike Rounds, along with Representative Kristi Noem, were instrumental in helping the city acquire the BUILD grant.

Sen. Thune spoke on the necessity of South Dakota continuing to receive its fair share of infrastructure dollars from Washington DC, and the importance of roads like Gateway Boulevard for the City of Tea, as well as cities and communities across the state.

“These transportation corridors are critical in making sure we can move people and freight in an efficient and effective way,” he said.

Planning for the Gateway Boulevard project began 12 years ago, spearheaded by then-mayor John Lawler.

Lawler spoke on the history of the project and emphasized the patience and help from business and property owners that hold residence on Gateway Boulevard.

Current Mayor Voelker thanked Lincoln County and all others who were involved in the project.

“There’s a lot of people to thank,” he said. “Just like anything in life, nobody gets anywhere alone.”


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