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$50K lighting project at SD Highways 34-37 junction to begin in winter

ARTESIAN -- The junction of South Dakota Highways 34 and 37 will see safety upgrades in the coming months, following the death of a Mitchell man last year.

ARTESIAN - The junction of South Dakota Highways 34 and 37 will see safety upgrades in the coming months, following the death of a Mitchell man last year.

Construction is set to begin this winter or spring on the implementation of several light poles at the intersection, after prompting from an area woman whose father was killed in a vehicle crash negotiating the curve last year. The estimated cost of the project is $50,000, according to Mitchell Area Engineer Jay Peppel.

On Nov. 27, 2015, Thomas' dad, Mike McCreight, was traveling eastbound on Highway 34 when he prepared to turn southbound on Highway 37, which is when authorities believe he lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle rolled and struck an electrical pole. In an investigation following the crash, in which McCreight, of Mitchell, was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities determined alcohol, drugs and speed were not factors in the crash.

Selena Thomas, McCreight’s daughter, believes the cause of the crash was that her father was unfamiliar with the roadway and, in part due to darkness, didn’t realize how quickly the curve was approaching. So, she contacted the South Dakota Department of Transportation Dec. 15, 2015, about possibly implementing light sources in the area.

The DOT’s initial recommendation called for the implementation of three light poles in the area. Peppel said, as of Tuesday, it is unclear the number of lights that will be implemented, adding it will be dependent upon the design the project’s future contractor will develop.

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After a summer full of public meetings and planning committee sessions, the project has been approved and work could begin by the end of 2016 and be completed by summer 2017.

“The money’s been appropriated and now the plans are being developed,” Peppel said. “Sometime this winter or into the spring they’ll start receiving bids from the contractors. The final cost of the project will rely on the contractor’s design.”

The first light pole will be located before the "point of decision" near the exchange, heading eastbound, with two more following that point prior to the intersection.

Sanborn County Sheriff Tom Fridley has said McCreight’s crash is the only fatal crash that has occurred at the intersection.

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