Lawrence County commission vets 5-year road plan, holds public hearing

The installation of asphalt pavement on Maitland Road from McDermott Road to Christensen Drive accounts for a $500,000 increase in the Lawrence County Highway budget for 2021.

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DEADWOOD — Lawrence County commissioners and seven members of the public weighed in on the county’s five-year highway and bridge improvement plan Sept. 22 at a public meeting on the matter.

Highway Superintendent Allan Bonnema presented the document and discussion began with the road plan, then turned to the 10-year gravel plan.

Planned projects for 2021 include the following in these estimated dollar amounts:

• .5-mile asphalt mill and overlay on Hanna Road from North Rochford Road west to the Lead Country Club, $217,500;

• .57-mile asphalt mill and overlay and building turn lanes on Oliver Street from McGuigan Road east to Spearfish city limits, $500,000;

• 1.25-mile asphalt mill and overlay on St. Onge Road, from the junction of US Hwy 85 east and north, $300,000;

• 1.2-mile asphalt pavement installation on Maitland Road from McDermott to Christensen Drive, $500,000;

• 4.65-mile chipseal and fogseal on St. Onge Road, $186,000;

• .57-mile chipseal and fogseal on Center Street in St. Onge, $22,800;

• 4.82-mile chipseal and fogseal Vanocker Canyon Road from Meade County Line south to the intersection of Nemo Road, $192,800;

• 12.55 mile route and crackseal on Nemo Road from Vanocker Canyon Road west to SD Hwy 385, $105,420;

• install box culvert on Maitland Road 1 mile south of Christensen Drive, $200,000;

• install box culvert on Maitland Road 4.75 miles north of Hwy 14A, $200,000;

• striping 88 miles of pavement, $71,400; re-gravel 22.78 miles of gravel roads, $653,786;

• magging 121.5 miles of gravel roads, $607,500;

• asphalt paving on bridge at W. Hwy 14 near I-90 at Exit 2, $250,000;

• replacement and repairs of culverts and small bridges, $121,550;

• build new bridge on Lookout Mountain Road (county’s 20% share), $160,000;

• apply for BIG Construction Grant for Whitewood Service Road bridge (county’s 20% share), $205,000;

• apply for BIG Preliminary Engineering grant for Whitewood Service Road bridge, $12,000.

Commissioner Randy Deibert suggested that on the asphalt mill and overlay on the St. Onge Road from the junction of US Highway 85 east and north, the county make the proposed road improvements then approach the city of Spearfish again to put the road back on their system for maintenance.

Commission Chairman Brandon Flanagan suggested that prior to work being done on the road, a letter be sent to the city notifying them that work will be done on the road and that, in light of the fact that there are city manholes on this stretch of road, the county is not responsible for the city’s due diligence.

“They should know up front that if something should get whacked or broken, it’s not ours,” Flanagan said.

Commissioner Daryl Johnson pointed out that there is a golf cart crossing on the road, as well.

“A golf cart crossing that they don’t have a permit for,” Deibert said. “We would have the ability to stop that. It’s our road … they’re crossing our road without a permit, which is not allowed.”

While there is a sign marking a golf cart crossing at the Elkhorn Ridge Golf Course, carts typically use the box culverts to travel underneath the road.

In regard to the installation of asphalt pavement on Maitland Road from McDermott Road to Christensen Drive, Bonnema said the reason the highway budget increased by $500,000 in 2021 is due to this project.

Deibert said the project was originally scheduled in 2021, with the city doing a design prior to that time and the county participating in dollars on the portion that is theirs.

“At budget time this came up and we moved to put this on the budget, regardless of city action,” he said. “And we budgeted for it in 2021, rather than moving it back.”

Johnson asked if the county is still trying to get the city involved.

“Not to my knowledge,” Deibert said.

“Looks like to me we should gravel or re-gravel it until they get it squared away,” said Commissioner Richard Sleep.

“It’s on the system and you can’t just get rid of it until the other party agrees,” Johnson said.

As indicated in the five-year plan document, major planned projects proposed over the next five years include:

• a 1.79-mile asphalt mill and overlay on North Rochford Road from Englewood Road north to the junction of US Highway 14A, at an estimated cost of $537,000 for 2021;

• a 1.63-mile asphalt pavement installation on Maitland Road from Christensen Drive, south to Forest Park Lane, at an estimated cost of $750,000 for 2022;

• a 4.62-mile asphalt mill and overlay on Nemo Road from the Meade county line, north to Estes Creek Road, at an estimated cost of $1,650,000 for 2023;

• a 4.62-mile asphalt mill and overlay on Nemo Road from Estes Creek Road north and west to the junction of Water Wheel Lane, at an estimated cost of $1,699,500 for 2024;

• a 4.62-mile asphalt mill and overlay on Nemo Road from Water Wheel Lane to just west of Reausaw Lake at an estimated cost of $1,750,485 million for 2025.

A 10-year, $7.5 million gravel plan also accompanies the road plan.

Talk then turned to the re-gravelling plan.

For 2021, planned gravel projects totaling $653,786 for gravel only, include:

• Juso Ranch Road, 1.96 miles, $56,252;

• Terry Summit Road, 3.28 miles, $94,136;

• Frosty Meadows Road, .73 miles, $20,951;

• Amiotte Place, .22 miles, $6,314;

• Auer Road, .32 miles, $9,184;

• Cleopatra Place, .06 miles, $1,722;

• Coyote Lane, .13 miles, $3,731;

• Datum Creek Place, .42 miles, $12,054;

• Elmore Road, .19 miles, $5,453;

• Hardin Road, 1.52 miles, $43,624;

• McDermott Road, .37 miles, $10,619;

• Merritt Road, .47 miles, $13,489;

• Mitchell Lane, .36 miles, $10,332;

• Kerwin Lane, 1.89 miles, $54,243;

• Custer Crossing Road, 6.29 miles, $180,523;

• Rochford Road, 3.43 miles, $98,441;

• Pendo Road, 1.14 miles, $32,718, for a total of 22.78 miles and 63,784 tons of gravel.

Concerns were raised by the commission regarding several roads they deem “driveways” that are being maintained by the county and only provide access to one or two homes.  

“We had the discussion several years ago about taking several of these roads off the system and at the time. I had a big concern with south county roads that were driveways because the Forest Service wouldn’t grant access or may not grant access along those roads,” Flanagan said. “So to maintain access to those properties, I was not in favor of taking them off of the system. Now we have minimal maintenance and that’s where I would go with these that are long driveways. I’d like to have that discussion when things slow down in December or January and review them again.”

Bonnema asked about snow removal.

“Let’s go through this winter and let them know that that would be it,” Flanagan said.

Deibert said he is on the same page, but sees it a little bit differently.

“I think we classify minimum maintenance and that means that we continue to blade and do snow removal,” Deibert said, adding that he would prefer to pick and choose which ones to even spend money on to gravel. “Some of these, we don’t even want to spend this money on gravel because we can just blade them up and they’re driveways.”

Deibert agreed that the commission needs to move forward and define minimum maintenance.

Lawrence County State’s Attorney Bruce Outka said it’s minimal traffic.

“It’s pretty hard to justify spending the money, when we took our tour down some of these roads and they virtually ran us off,” Johnson said.

Deibert said he advocates not graveling Juso Ranch Road, Frosty Meadows Road, Amiotte Place, Auer Road this year, as in some cases, the tax base the county receives from the properties the roads access isn’t enough to pay for the gravel.

The commission then discussed paving Maitland Road from Christensen drive south to Forest Park Lane and decided to leave the project on the road plan for 2022.

Commissioner Richard Sleep said he would be against the project.

“I think it’s a good road the way it is, when it’s graveled in a timely manner and some mag water put on it,” Sleep said. “The road is curved, and I think it would be more dangerous with asphalt.”

Commissioner Randy Deibert said that the information provided to the commission indicates there are no center dividers and safety issues with the road.

“I’m kind of on board with Mr. Sleep,” Deibert said. “The issue is speed. People are driving faster than they’re supposed to. And I don’t suggest we pave this.”

Commissioner Daryl Johnson said comments were received from the public indicating the road isn’t safe because there isn’t a centerline.

“Basically, those are people who have lived in a city or have not lived in South Dakota,” Johnson said. “We’ve all grown up on gravel roads, and you know when you come to the hill, you get over and the rest of the road, when you can see the road, you drive in the middle. Everybody’s done that their whole life and you just don’t paint a yellow stripe down a gravel road.”

Commissioner Randall Rosenau said that even with the speed limit posted on the interstate, people still drive 90 mph and that he wasn’t sure speed was a necessary factor in the commission determining whether or not they pave the road.

Bonnema said the road is the highest traffic count gravel road in the county and getting higher, but that the work the road would require to be rebuilt before being paved would be cost-prohibitive given the planned budgeted projects.

Tom Marts, who lives on Forest Park Lane, spoke in favor of paving this section of Maitland Road in 2022. Marts offered that this section of road accommodates over 700 cars a day.

“That road is way past time to be paved,” Marts said, adding that curves can sometimes be taken blindly, but when there is a center line, as a general rule, people drive on their side of the road. “I know a center line on that road is safer than the gravel.”

Kyle Craig, who lives on Burno Gulch Road, said the gravel on the road is increasing the speed on the curves due to people diving into the banked curves.

“I actually think that if we pave it, it’s going to slow down traffic, especially through the corners,” Craig said.

Johnson said the commission has been kicking the can down the road on the project for several years.

“I think we owe it to the people that live up there to, if we put it in this deal and say it’s going to be in 2022, that you stick with it,” Johnson said.

The commissioners discussed the proposed installation of asphalt pavement project on the first mile of Higgins Gulch Road for 2023 and directed Bonnema to remove this project from the plan.

“That road is not ready for paving,” Deibert said.

The planned re-gravelling in 2022 remains on the schedule.

Bonnema must submit the five-year plan document to the state by Oct. 15 in order to qualify the county for wheel tax and bridge improvement grant (BIG) funds. It is slated to be adopted at the commission’s next meeting with the previously mentioned adjustments Oct. 6.

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