- Associated Press - Saturday, August 29, 2015

TYNDALL, S.D. (AP) - More than 500 people in the Bon Homme County area have signed a petition to keep five four-lane passing sections on state Highway 50 between Avon and Yankton.

The petition was sent to the South Dakota Department of Transportation to protest a proposal to reduce the stretches to three-lane sections with a center lane for left turns, The Daily Republic reported (https://bit.ly/1LAjWAO ).

Former state legislator and Scotland-area resident Frank Kloucek said this week that about 510 names and signatures had been collected supporting the current four-lane setup in Bon Homme County. Residents from Charles Mix, Hutchinson and Yankton counties have all signed.

Kloucek said he believes keeping four lanes is a safety measure, especially because farm equipment travels down the road frequently, and having the extra lane allows vehicles to pass. He said the state hasn’t shown any proof the change would save money in the long-term.

“I just think it’s a huge waste of taxpayers’ money,” he said. “I think we can have safer roads and intersections without tearing up the road that’s already there.”

Earlier this month, an open house was held in Tyndall to brief the public on the proposed changes. South Dakota Department of Transportation Planning Engineer Mark Malone said the emphasis of the project is safety, and that the stretches of road don’t have enough traffic to warrant keeping them as four-lane segments.

“Basically, we have four lanes now, and they’re not needed,” Malone said. “There’s segments that are way under capacity for being able to maintain those segments, and it’s just not cost effective for taxpayers.”

Changing the segments from four lanes down to three will cost $8.3 million, according to Malone. Another 13 miles of resurfacing work would bring the grand total to $14.1 million.

The project remains in the developmental stage of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan, meaning it would be worked on in 2020 or beyond.

Kloucek said he hopes the outreach by locals will make an impact with the Department of Transportation when considering the future of the road, which he said has been this way for 55 years.

“They’ve got their hearts in the right place, but it has to make sense for the people locally,” he said. “And this is just not something people want to see.”


Information from: The Daily Republic, https://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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