STURGIS — There will be one less stoplight in the city of Sturgis in the future.
After a study of the intersection at 8th and Lazelle streets, the South Dakota Department of Transportation is recommending removing the traffic signal and replacing it with stop signs on the north and south sections of that intersection.
The signal would go back up during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
The DOT did ask the city for feedback on the traffic signal study and recommendation, said Sturgis Public Works Director Rick Bush.
“The city manager felt that this should be a decision that comes from the full council,” Bush told the council last week.
In November of 2020, the South Dakota DOT conducted a traffic signal warrant study at the Intersection of Lazelle Street (SD Highway 34/79) and 8th Street. Bush said the purpose of the study was to evaluate existing conditions and determine if the existing traffic signal was warranted at the location.
The study, initiated at the request of the Rapid City Area SDDOT office, analyzed vehicle traffic volume, pedestrian activity, intersection crash history, and the physical environment in order to determine whether or not the intersection warrants a traffic control signal.
Recommendations from the study are as follows:
• The Rapid City Region Traffic Engineer should initiate the signal removal process as outlined in the “Traffic Signals on State Highway” policy to proceed with the removal of the existing traffic signal at this location as a permanent traffic signal.
• The signal heads should be removed and stored, but the rest of the traffic signal infrastructure should remain in place to be used as a traffic signal each year during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with the signal heads reinstalled.
• Hinged stop signs should be installed on the northbound and southbound (8th Street) legs of the intersection, as a two-way stop the rest of the year outside of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
• It should be verified that the sheds for sale in the Northwest quadrant are outside of the right-of-way and they should be moved if not.
• Bush said he contacted Harlow’s Bus service and they indicated that they have approximately eight empty school buses that make a left-hand turn at the intersection in the morning as they are headed to the Piedmont/Stagebarn area. He said they did prefer the signal to remain but could possibly make route modifications if the two-way stop did not work for them.
• The recommendation from city staff was to comply with the SDDOT’s request and agree to have the signal at the intersection of SD Hwy 34/79 and 8th Street removed by the SDDOT.
• The council voted unanimously at its Feb. 16 meeting to follow the recommendation of the DOT to remove the signals for 11 months of the year, but use them during the Rally.
Bush said that over the past five years the city has had some trouble with the light.
“It’s at its life expectancy and we are going to have to look at making some significant upgrades to it if we decide to keep it,” Bush said.
He said equipment for a new intersection currently would cost about $285,000. To rehabilitate the current system would cost about $250,000, Bush said.
Given that, the Public Works staff does not have any reason to object to the directive from the DOT, he said.
“It is a state highway. If the DOT says remove it we’ll have to remove it,” Bush said.
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