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South Dakota officials plan 2025 reconstruction of Highway 50 near Lake Andes

$11.3 million in reconstruction work currently being discussed, planned

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A garbage truck rumbles east on State Highway 50 toward Lake Andes. The road is scheduled for reconstruction in 2025. (Marcus Traxler / Republic)

LAKE ANDES — South Dakota transportation officials have been planning future reconstruction of a state highway west of Lake Andes later this decade.

An $11.3 million project to reconstruct nine miles of State Highway 50 west of Lake Andes is being planned by the state Department of Transportation. Virtual public meetings regarding the project were held recently, with construction planned for 2025. A permanent asphalt surface is to be paved in 2026.

The Highway 50 project is slated to run from the intersection with State Highway 1804 into the west city limits of Lake Andes and the junction with U.S. Highway 18. The project will be designed in 2022 and the construction will take place during the summer of 2025.

Among the issues with the highway include narrow shoulders on the road, curves on the highway, deteriorating pavement connections and the connections with nearby side road connections. The highway was last resurfaced in 2010.

The proposed improvements include widening the roadway to allow for 6-foot shoulders, adding a left-turn lane to the intersection with State Highway 1804 on the west end of the construction area and widening the curve where those two roads meet, replacing culverts and fencing, and removing and flattening highway curves. Traffic is planned to be maintained during construction of the project with one lane of traffic and a pilot car.

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The efforts related to changing the highway curves are related to the SDDOT’s efforts related to access management, which involves trying to provide safe access to highways by limiting the number of direct accesses to major roadways and building in spacing between driveways and crossroads. The SDDOT says that driveway-access crashes cost South Dakota approximately $36.5 million each year.

Highway 50, which runs between Geddes and Lake Andes, is not among the region’s most highly trafficked roads. South Dakota DOT traffic counts say that the average daily traffic is 627 vehicles, as of 2019, with an projected increase to 971 vehicles over the next 25 years.

Grading and structures along the roadway date back to 1942, according to information provided by the SDDOT.

The highway does have a higher than average crash rate, according to SDDOT statistics. The highway had 36 reported crashes from 2015 to 2019, with most of those occurring when vehicles hit animals in the roadway. The crash rate is 4.39 for a rural principal arterial road such as Highway 50 (which is calculated by crashes per million vehicle miles of travel), but is lowered to 1.9 when animal-related crashes are removed. The statewide weighted crash rate is 1.46.

The SDDOT said it will be reaching out to landowners this summer to discuss right-of-way acquisitions.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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