SD DOT to move forward with Highway 46 project in Wagner, 'unless something else is proposed'
When asked if the DOT plans to move forward with the plans to convert the current four-lane highway into a three-lane with a turning lane, DOT’s Jay Peppel said, “I haven’t heard otherwise.”
WAGNER, S.D. — The South Dakota Department of Transportation is moving forward with reconstruction of South Dakota Highway 46, despite Wagner's special election that showed some residents are not in favor of the project.
On Tuesday, Dec. 6, the city of Wagner held a special election after a group of opponents referred a show of support from the city council toward the road project. The election was only to vote on whether the council should show its support to the DOT, not whether the construction would or would not move forward.
The $17 million project calls for re-configuring the four-lane highway that extends through Wagner into a three-lane equipped with a center-left turn lane. However, some residents have voiced their concerns over the project, saying it could lead to unnecessary hardship for years to come.
Wagner's City Council held a special meeting on Monday, Dec. 12 to canvass the votes for the election, from which the majority who voted did not want the city council to show support for the project. The final results were 133-64.
Frank Kloucek, an opponent of the project and former South Dakota state legislator who does not live in Wagner, sent an email to the Mitchell Republic stating "the residents of Wagner soundly rejected the Wagner City Council's resolution of support for the state three-lane highway proposal."
Included in the email was a statement from Leo Soukup, a Wagner resident.
“I am very proud of our Wagner residents standing up for what is right for the city of Wagner," the statement said. "With the vote today is clear that a huge majority of Wagner residents support the four-lane proposal. Petitions phone calls, emails, letters, written and oral testimony to the Wagner City Council and state DOT have also been overwhelmingly supportive of the four lanes.”
Still, Wagner City Attorney Ken Cotton said on Tuesday the votes most likely won't have any standing, unless decided otherwise by the DOT.
"That stretch of highway is under the state's jurisdiction," Cotton said. "Now, it seems like the ball is in the DOT's court — they get to decide where to go from here."
However, when asked if the DOT will move forward with the plans to convert the roadway, DOT’s Jay Peppel said, “I haven’t heard otherwise.”
“The DOT has nothing to do with the city election,” Peppel said. “So the current plans stand unless something else is proposed by (the city).”
What the city plans to do moving forward is unknown. The Mitchell Republic reached out to multiple members of the Wagner City Council and its mayor but has not received comment.