Key Lake Andes highway reopens after year of flooding

State officials work on Highway 18 near Lake Andes earlier this month. (Republic photo)

The South Dakota Department of Transportation has reopened U.S. Highway 18 east of Lake Andes.

This section of highway — which is co-signed as U.S. Highway 281 and South Dakota Highway 50 — was closed for several months over the spring and summer due to flooding. The department was able to successfully raise the grade and open it to traffic for a brief period of time before unprecedented rain in September flooded the roadway once again.

A contractor has completed installing guardrail on both sides of the roadway. This was a needed safety measure due to the water still being right up to the shoulder and upwards of 10-feet deep along this section.

The DOT said motorists are advised to drive through the area with caution, especially during inclement weather. Continued high water levels along the road will create a higher incidence of ice on this section during the winter months.

The department will continue to monitor water levels and plan to place additional dirt embankment on the in-slopes, extend drainage culverts and connect local roads likely in 2020, depending on water levels.

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