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Bon Homme Co. residents continue efforts to halt Highway 50 project

SIOUX FALLS -- A group of 11 Bon Homme County residents continued opposition efforts for the South Dakota Department of Transportation's plan to alter Highway 50, voicing their concerns during a public meeting Wednesday in Sioux Falls.

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SIOUX FALLS - A group of 11 Bon Homme County residents continued opposition efforts for the South Dakota Department of Transportation's plan to alter Highway 50, voicing their concerns during a public meeting Wednesday in Sioux Falls.

As Mike Behm, South Dakota DOT director of division and planning, addressed the 61 member audience prior to opening public comment at the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program meeting, he explained why the Highway 50 project - which has sparked backlash from residents living in and near Bon Homme County - wasn't in the 2019-2022 construction program.

"We have heard quite a bit of comments and concerns over the configuration of the design that DOT is planning in that location, so we did not include it in the construction program because we want more public input," Behm said. "We are having some good discussion, and the intent is to come up with a plan that is going to work for the project."

The proposed $13 million project seeks to eliminate the current four-lane highway and implement a two-lane highway near Tabor and Tyndall, which is scheduled for completion in 2022, according to the South Dakota DOT. The project was introduced in 2015 and prompted Bon Homme residents to introduce a resolution and House Bill 1284 through Sen. Stace Nelson, which was deferred and defeated in March at the state legislative level.

Mark Marty, a Tyndall resident living near the proposed construction site, said he is overwhelmed by construction already, as the DOT's Highway 37 project has officially started in front of his house and is causing problems.

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"I thought the two projects were going to be separated and now there are powerline companies on my yard, ready to start work," Marty said. "What really concerns me is the lack of communication, as I emailed the highway project engineer and received a generic email back."

The Bon Homme County Highway 37 project located in front of Marty's home is scheduled to be completed by 2022, which Marty said will equate to five years of having his property torn up without easement.

Frank Kloucek, a Tyndall resident and former state legislator, expressed concerns and brought forward the two resolutions which the Bon Homme County Commission adopted in support of maintaining the four-lane highway.

Aside from the Bon Homme area residents' public support to maintain the four-lane highway, Kloucek said many members of the community support slowing the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph through Tyndall and Tabor.

"The general public is at risk, and I'm very disappointed that our concerns have fallen on deaf ears," Kloucek said.

The Bon Homme residents were also equipped with new petitions that consist of seven proposals community members hope to see implemented. Of the seven proposals included in the petition, keeping the four-lane intersections on Highway 50 and slowing traffic to 45 mph through Tyndall and Tabor are the main focal points of concern.

In response to Kloucek's concern, Behm said the project that was originally planned is not currently planned in the program right now.

"I would like to reiterate we are listening to you, and we're trying to find a solution," Behm said. "We are going to wait and hear more public comments as well."

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Behm reassured the Bon Homme area locals that he understands there is enough concern for the project and he will seek more public comment in order to find the right solution.

Currently, the Highway 50 project is at a standstill until the South Dakota DOT finds that right solution.

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