Cul-de-sacs on Mitchell's Burr Street?
By Bob Mercer
PIERRE — Some businesspeople from Mitchell met with the state Transportation Commission on Thursday to explain they don’t like some changes proposed for one of the city’s busiest corridors.
The work is proposed for Burr Street, the major north-south thoroughfare that connects with Interstate 90 at the city’s east-side interchange.
The state Department of Transportation wants to reduce vehicle collisions along Burr Street and increase clearance at the I-90 overpass with the $8.4 million project.
DOT plans to install cul-de-sacs on the current service roads on either side of Burr and to generally change the access points. Some would be eliminated or restricted while others would be added or relocated.
The five businesspeople who spoke to the commission Thursday are concentrated closest to the I-90 interchange. They predicted motorists will have greater difficulty and will need to make U-turns on Burr that aren’t necessary now.
“There is the law of unintended consequences that is going to kick in,” said Bryan Hisel. He is executive director for the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce and the Mitchell Area Development Corp.
Hisel said the chamber organization recently acquired the long-empty Happy Chef property that sits at the northeast corner of the interchange for $480,000.
He said the intent is to turn the building into a visitor center that would draw 50,000 to 100,000 people annually and would also house the chamber offices.
“Your decision about this (Burr Street project) will change our opinions about the property,” Hisel told the commission.
Others who spoke to the commission were Mobil station owner Tyler Graham, Super 8 manager Ron DeGeest, Campbell Supply manager Stan Peterson and Bruce Haines, director of operations for the company that owns the local McDonald’s restaurants.
They were professional and polite and emphasized there are many other things they like about the project. They were accompanied by two local legislators, Sen. Mike Vehle and Rep. Lance Carson, both Republicans from Mitchell.
“They make some pretty good points,” Vehle said.
Mark Leiferman, DOT’s chief road design engineer, said the timeline calls for a February 2016 bid letting and construction from April through November 2016.
“Right now we’re in the preliminary design stages,” Leiferman said.
Commission Chairman Michael Trucano, of Deadwood, said the commissioners don’t want to micro-manage DOT’s staff on a project. But he recalled how the plan for a major project in Deadwood was adjusted by DOT in response to citizens.
“I think we’re in the early stages now of the design. We’ll certainly consider your words,” Trucano said.
He added, “We’ll have another opportunity to hear from you if things aren’t going the way you think they should be going.”