- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

STURGIS, S.D. (AP) - A state judge has declined a plea by opponents to mandate a public vote on a proposed highway bypass at Sturgis.

The group Meade County Taxpayers for Responsible Government sued earlier to try to force an election on the proposed Fort Meade Way.

Judge Jerome Eckrich on Monday said the group could not force the County Commission to stop moving forward on developing the road. The group can appeal, though a sign indicating Fort Meade Way has already been erected and commissioners on Tuesday were opening construction bids, according to the Rapid City Journal.

Opposition group spokesman Rod Baumberger told the newspaper that continuing to fight the project might be fruitless or too costly.

The 2.5-mile gravel bypass connecting Interstate 90 with S.D. Highway 34 east of Sturgis could cost up to $2.8 million. Buffalo Chip Campground owner Rod Woodruff has pledged up to $1 million. Construction could start this month and wrap up next July.

Bypass proponents say it could spur growth east of Sturgis and ease traffic problems during the annual motorcycle rally that draws hundreds of thousands of people to the region.

Opponents including the Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce worry about the effect of a bypass on local businesses. Some landowners along the route also worry about encroachment on their homes and ranches. Voters in March overwhelmingly rejected a tax increment financing district to pay for it.


This story has been corrected to show that the length of the proposed bypass is 2 ½ miles, not 6 miles.

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