SD lawmakers prefer reflectors continue along state highways
PIERRE — Removing the reflector posts along state highways would make for easier mowing of ditches, a state legislator said Thursday.
But a state House panel decided they are too important for the safety of motorists.
The House Transportation Committee voted 10-3 to kill the legislation brought by Rep. Betty Olson, R-Prairie City.
She originally wanted the posts removed throughout South Dakota. That would have cost about $2 million, according to state Department of Transportation officials.
Rep. Dan Kaiser, R-Aberdeen, tried to make her bill less objectionable with an amendment that allowed the posts to remain in place, but would prohibit new ones when replacements were needed.
Vehicles running off roads are the No. 1 type of major highway accident in South Dakota, according to a state Department of Public Safety official.
Several legislators told of their experiences on snow-blown highways during winter storms when the reflectors helped them get home.
Rep. Dean Schrempp, D-Lantry, said he recently had to drive down the wrong side of the highway with his head out the window so he could see the reflectors and get through a blind patch.
“It’s helped me many times to stay on the road,” Schrempp said.
Olson and Kaiser said the rumble strips that are along many segments of newer highway should be sufficient for motorists.
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Mike Verchio, R-Hill City, said the reflectors helped him make it to Pierre through different storms during legislative sessions.
He used a joke to bring the debate to a close. “I wonder, if we take down the posts, how are the reflectors going to stay in the air?”