Bon Homme Co. residents fight proposed Highway 50 project in Legislature
TYNDALL -- A proposed $13 million project to drastically alter South Dakota Highway 50 in Bon Homme County will get its time in the spotlight next week.
TYNDALL - A proposed $13 million project to drastically alter South Dakota Highway 50 in Bon Homme County will get its time in the spotlight next week.
Scheduled for a hearing in the South Dakota Legislature on Monday, a Senate resolution addressing concerns about the South Dakota Department of Transportation's proposed project states more than 600 community members have voiced their concerns.
The plan - introduced in 2015 - calls for the reduction of the section of four-lane intersections near Tyndall and Tabor, and is scheduled to be completed in 2022. The DOT is pursuing its plan in response to safety concerns, according to officials, as there have been an "above average number of crashes" in the past 12 years.
For the past three years, many Bon Homme County residents have vocally opposed the project, leading to the introduction of the Senate resolution and House Bill 1284, which calls instead for reduced speed limits near Tabor and Tyndall and the installation of safety lights. HB 1284, which was deferred to the 41st Legislative day, would bar the DOT from pursuing its lane reduction plan and contains an emergency provision for its immediate enactment upon final passage.
Additionally, the bill would ensure the DOT would not be allowed to install roundabouts on Highway 50 in the county, but would be required to provide left and right turning lanes at the northern boundary of Avon.
"Not everyone who wanted to speak at your last two meetings did so," former state Legislator Frank Kloucek said in a message to DOT Secretary Darin Bergquist. "They are now left feeling frustrated and disappointed their voices and concerns are not being taken seriously. There is a saying 'Let us make change for the better to improve the people's quality and quantity of life - not just change for the sake of change.' The latter seems to sum up what many believe to be going on with this project."
Multiple attempts to reach Bergquist for this report were unsuccessful.
Kloucek said the bill was drafted to give constituents of Bon Homme County a voice because the DOT has "neglected" their opinions and public testimony has been ignored. And, Kloucek added, it's not only Bon Homme County residents concerned about the project - many people from outside the county have expressed concerns, as well, he said.
This week, Kloucek invited Bergquist to visit community residents in March or early April to discuss their concerns.
"It is only right and fair to answer their questions and respond to their concerns," Kloucek said in an email to Bergquist. "According to the process you have in place DOT does not have to do such a meeting. In my opinion it would be good public relations on your part to address the great concerns about what the DOT is trying to do with this project."