High traffic counts catch county’s eyeWith budget season rapidly approaching, higher traffic numbers on Davison County roads are sure to pose growing cash and maintenance challenges in 2013.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
With budget season rapidly approaching, higher traffic numbers on Davison County roads are sure to pose growing cash and maintenance challenges in 2013.
Recently, Highway Superintendent Rusty Weinberg briefed the Davison County commissioners on the South Dakota Department of Transportation’s 2011 road count reports.
The counts, which are typically done during warmer months, according to Department of Transportation Region Engineer Craig Smith, show average daily traffic counts on various sections of county roads.
The counts generally confirm what county highway crews already know, Weinberg said.
“But the counts also give us some sort of an idea what surface types to use on our roads when we repave them,” he said. “In areas with a lot of traffic numbers, they may eventually be repaved with 3- to 4-inch asphalt mats, and lower traffic spots might get 2-inch thick layers.”
Weinberg said he didn’t have 2010 counts immediately available for comparison, but said “traffic count numbers are higher than they were last year in some cases, by 15 to 20 percent.”
For his purposes, Weinberg said, daily traffic counts of more than 400 vehicles a day are considered high.
One section of highway with a particularly high vehicle count was the five miles of 254th Street — which is also known as West Havens Avenue — just west of that road’s intersection with Ohlman Street (the Highway 37 bypass), where traffic counts ran from 2,930 vehicles per day for the first mile to 485 vehicles a day at the fifth mile (at 403rd Avenue).
Weinberg attributed the high counts to northbound traffic from Interstate 90, and from southbound traffic from Lake Mitchell neighborhoods.
Counts were also up in western parts of the county.
The highest traffic increases were on 397th Street, Weinberg said. That asphalt road, which runs the length of the county, north to south, is known to locals as the “Mount Vernon oil,” because it runs through that town.
Truck traffic is relatively heavy— 307 vehicles a day — where 397th Avenue crosses the county’s northern border. Semis loaded with grain headed south to the Poet ethanol plant in Loomis account for the higher numbers at the entry point, Weinberg said.
Counts jump to 970 vehicles a day at Mount Vernon and to 683 vehicles a day between that town and I-90. Immediately south of 1-90 counts are 468 vehicles a day. Continuing south, numbers fall off to 436 vehicles a day just north of 262nd Street and drop to 243 vehicles a day as 397th Avenue leaves Davison County’s southern border.
Weinberg said recent pavement improvements by his department, as well as the need for a direct north-south route, have made the road popular.
To the east, recent repairs to 408th Avenue (South Ohlman Street), are making that road popular with locals. The road runs parallel to state Highway 37, but two miles to the west.
“It also lets folks avoid the traffic congestion where Highway 37 enters Mitchell,” he said. Counts were 663 vehicles a day about 2.5 miles south of I-90, but were only 79 vehicles a day closer to Ethan. Weinberg is certain the latter number will be considerably higher in the next count.
An ongoing county headache is the four miles of 247th Avenue that run from Highway 37 to the Poet ethanol plant in Loomis.
Traffic counts on 247th ranged from 545 vehicles a day at Highway 37 to 416 vehicles a day at Loomis and 405th Avenue.
Around 2006, the county spent $1.2 million to rebuild the road, Weinberg said, but it never had enough money to finish the job. Since then it has periodically had to make repairs to road damage from inbound semis towing heavy loads of grain.
Weinberg figures the county will spend up to $110,000 this year on the four-mile stretch of road, once all repairs and chip and seal surfacing are completed.
Other high traffic hot spots:
* Foster Avenue at 250th Street, 931 vehicles a day.
* Cemetery Road (252nd Street) 337 vehicles a day at 400th Avenue; 475 vehicles a day between 403rd and 404th avenues; and 1,148 vehicles a day at 407th Avenue.
* Betts Road (403rd Avenue), from 337 vehicles a day south of I-90 to 465 vehicles a day north of the interstate. Weinberg said county crews are working on north Betts Road this year and he remains hopeful paving funds can be found for nine miles of Betts Road in time for the summer 2013 paving season.