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Box Elder deal might open way for expanding I-90 to six lanes

PIERRE -- The state Transportation Commission on Monday approved proceeding with negotiations to transfer several miles of service road to the city of Box Elder.

PIERRE - The state Transportation Commission on Monday approved proceeding with negotiations to transfer several miles of service road to the city of Box Elder.

The deal would open the north side of Interstate 90 to development between exits 61 and 63.

It also would clear the way for expansion some day of Interstate 90 to six lanes from Ellsworth Air Force Base into Rapid City.

The plan would be set forth in an agreement to be signed between Box Elder, Pennington County and the state Department of Transportation.

"I appreciate the department is being pro-active," Kyle White of Rapid City, a member of the state commission, said.

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The proposal calls for Box Elder to develop two more miles of Mall Road east from the Flying J truck stop complex.

The new stretch of Mall Road would run north of exit 61 to north of exit 63.

It would replace most of the service road that now runs parallel to I-90 on the north side between the two exits.

The service road in turn would be "obliterated," other than a short stretch near exit 63 to which the new Mall Road would connect, according to Joel Jundt, the state's deputy secretary of transportation.

Two businesses in the area at exit 61 would need to be moved to new locations, Jundt said.

The package would cost the state Department of Transportation an estimated $2.35 million.

That would cover relocating the two businesses, tearing out the service road and acquiring additional right of way for future expansion of I-90.

The cost for adding two more lanes to I-90 wasn't discussed or asked Monday.

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The Mall Road extension and the service road demolition would be completed by 2024, Jundt said.

"This is going to move along," he said.

Box Elder would be responsible for survey, design and construction of the additional length of Mall Road.

The boundary between the municipalities of Rapid City and Box Elder is what's known as Elk Vale Road at exit 60.

DOT would retain the service road's right of way toward future expansion of I-90

The service road at exit 61 next to Flying J would be closed but businesses would have other access.

If I-90 is expanded, DOT would be responsible for acquiring additional right of way to move the short stretch of remaining service road to the north and rebuild the service road near exit 63, Jundt said.

Asked by White if there is adequate right of way to put six lanes all the way from Rapid City to the air base, Jundt replied, "It would be pretty close."

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"It all depends on the drainage and other things," Jundt said.

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