- Associated Press - Sunday, June 15, 2014

BOX ELDER, S.D. (AP) - A short stretch of Interstate 90 in western South Dakota has a reputation for a speeding trap as highway patrol troopers make frequent stops in that stretch when they sit in the median of the road where the speed limit goes from 75 to 65 mph.

But now it appears the speed limit may have been wrong on that section of the highway, the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/1uuJdBD ) reported Sunday. State officials acknowledge that the final 1.3 miles of the 65 mph zone that starts west of Rapid City and ends less than a half mile east of Exit 67 was actually a 75-mph zone all along.

The state Transportation Commission recently learned of the mistake and moved swiftly to correct it.

“This is a unique situation for this region,” Todd Seaman, the Department of Transportation engineer for the Rapid City area, said of the decade-old error.

Seaman told the newspaper that the 65-mph speed limit was supposed to have been changed after the state closed Exit 66 and built Exit 67. He maintained the speed limit signs in the area were placed in the correct positions at that time.

“The speed zone wasn’t changed on paper in 2004, but the traveler would have always seen the signs,” Seaman said.

Defense attorney Patrick Duffy brought the mistake to the department’s attention as he was preparing a defense for a couple that was stopped for going 68 mph on the supposed 65 mph zone near Exit 67. The officer who pulled over the couple found 20 pounds of marijuana in the vehicle and charged them with possession with intent to distribute.

Seaman said Duffy’s inquiry about the discrepancy led to the commission to extend the speed-limit zone in April.

Area attorneys say that portion of I-90 is one of the patrol’s main spots for detecting and arresting people transporting drugs from the West Coast to points east of South Dakota.

Attorney Matt Kinney told the newspaper he has defended more than 30 clients who were stopped for a traffic violation and later charged with drug offenses.

“I’ve been getting Milepost 67 cases since 2009 or 2010,” he said.

As far as the Department of Transportation is concerned, it’s time to turn the page on the snafu.

“It is what it is,” Seaman said. “Either it was a clerical error or it just didn’t get done.”

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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