News Stories

State Finals Snowfighter Roadeo tests skills, readies drivers for winter season - DRG News 10/13/2022
DOT discusses future plans north of Huron - Huron Plainsman - 10/08/2022

HURON — A small group of interested landowners and residents met with the South Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT) Tuesday evening at the Huron Event Center to discuss a proposed project on S.D. Hwy. 37 north of Huron.

Waylon Blasius of Banner Associates presented the information to the crowd as the design consultant for DOT on the project, currently slated for 2027. The project will entail removal and reconstruction of the highway from the intersection with S.D. Hwy. 28 at the north end of the project to Beadle County Road 14 on the south end of the project.

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Would you use a park and ride north of Sioux Falls? SDDOT wants to know - Keloland 07/25/2022
Officials plan solutions for accidents in front of Reptile Gardens - Rapid City Journal 07/22/2022
Final US 83 Project Underway to Update 68-Mile White River to Murdo Corridor in South Dakota 7/6/2022
South Dakota has demand for electric vehicles, but not the supply or energy grid 7/5/2022
S.D. rail panel reviews first-ever investment guide - Keloland News 6/16/2022

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Railroad Board got a look Wednesday at a draft version of an investment guide that it plans to start using for analyzing funding decisions.

The $548,569.67 contract between HDR Engineering of Omaha, Nebraska, and the state Department of Transportation calls for a new rail plan and an investment guide.

HDR project manager Catherine Dobbs described the investment guide as an internal-facing document for state government’s use that complements the outward-facing state rail plan — “Sort of brother-sister,” she said — and replaces the current informal decision-making process on investments.....

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“511 Day” celebrates service that keeps travelers informed and safe- Dakota News Now 5/11/2022
Diamonds are a driver’s best friend - Kelo 4/10/2022

Full Article Here: https://www.keloland.com/news/local-news/diamonds-are-a-drivers-best-friend/

Diamonds are a driver’s best friend

By Don Jorgensen – April 10 (10 p.m.)

 

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — We’ve already told you about two major road construction projects in South Dakota that will have a big impact on drivers.

Crews have already started working on a Diverging Diamond Interchange in Rapid City and prep work has begun for one at 41st Street and Interstate 29.

But those two are just the beginning.

Although you might find them confusing at first, you better get used to Diverging Diamond Interchanges.

Diverging diamond intersections coming to Rapid City & Sioux Falls

The state transportation department says there are already two more in the works.

The next one will be here at Benson Road over I-229. The reason? Increased traffic.

“It actually has quite a bit of heavy traffic movement because of the business corridor that it does supply in order to go to work, you know the Sanford and different businesses right off Benson Road off of 229,” South Dakota Department of Transportation Area Engineer Harry Johnston said.

Construction on that one will start next year

The state’s fourth diverging diamond will be at the Brandon exit along Interstate 90.

“The need really arises from the heavy traffic movement during peak volume hours there’s a lot of traffic in the morning and in the evenings that enter and exit Brandon so those traffic volumes warrant this kind of interchange,” Johnston said.

Highway 18 project to close section of roadway

Construction on that one will start in 2024.

Safety is the main reason behind these diverging diamond interchanges – because Johnston says they reduce the number of ways vehicles can collide by almost half.

“It reduces that conflict movement where traffic that’s traveling doesn’t have to turn left across lanes of traffic where you travel on per say the wrong side of the road or the opposite side as you typically do you’ll be able to make a left turn movement freely without having to cross traffic so it’ll reduce that impact,” Johnston said.

Johnston says they should also reduce the amount of time you sit and wait at a stoplight.

If the state puts in an interchange at 85th and I-29 south of Sioux Falls, that one, too, will be a diverging diamond.

 

How does SDDOT choose a detour? Kelo 4/4/2022

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A detour can’t just be the shortest route around a construction zone.

It’s not that easy.

“It really depends on the type of job and location,” said Mark Peterson Aberdeen Region Engineer with the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT).

“There are different types of detours including over-width, over-height, and over-weight detours depending on.... Continue reading the full article. 

Life Is A Highway For New DOT Engineer
Snowplows don’t hit highway speeds during storms, but the safest place to be is behind them
Snow way it’s staying on the highway, how the plows predict the future
DOT Monitors Weather, Predicts Highway Needs

(click to view full article)
Snowplow Brings Blizzard Of Memories – Yankton News

Snowplow Brings Blizzard Of Memories

Yankton News BY RANDY DOCKENDORF randy.dockendorf@yankton.net


WAKONDA — When the South Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT) displayed a snowplow at her school, teacher Tina Lee saw more than a massive piece of equipment.

The Irene-Wakonda instructor watched her pre-schoolers marvel at the snowplow’s size and power. The DOT brought the plow to the Wakonda and Centerville schools as part of the Walk to School safety program and the “Name The Snowplow” contest.

But for Lee, the display brought a blizzard of memories surrounding her late father, Richard “Dick” Slowey, who worked decades for the DOT. Slowey, who passed away in September, first worked in Irene and then Yankton.

For Lee, the DOT visit offered closure after recently losing her father. The snowplow also symbolized his dedication to keeping others safe during miserable and even dangerous weather. The family connection continued another way as her husband, Kim, formerly worked for the DOT.

“For me, the (school) visit was very personal. My dad just passed away, and this brought back many good memories. It was just kind of a final farewell to him,” Lee said.

“The kids in my class knew my dad did that (machinery operation) for his work. When they could actually see the snowplow, it was just a great connection between my dad and them.”

Lee described the DOT’s visit to the Wakonda elementary school as a humbling experience for her. She used it as a teachable moment, telling her students not only about her own father but also the important work that all highway workers perform during their daily duties.

“Because they are so young, I kept it simple for the kids in my class,” she said. “I was able to tell them my dad worked for the DOT. He had to get up early (during threatening weather) because he had to get out on the roads while it was still snowing. He would plow the snow off the road so … we are riding on safe roads.”

In her story, Lee used the example of the students’ own parents heading to work or trying to take the children to school during bad weather. In either case, the DOT workers and others were working to make travel possible for everyone.

“The kids recognize the snowplow operator as someone who is helping them out, and they can make that connection with my dad and others who serve us,” Lee said.

——

Thanks to a new DOT contest, the recent visitor to the area schools had a name — Frosty the Snowplow.

Last winter, the DOT rolled out the first-ever Name the Snowplow Contest. People in each DOT region were invited to submit their names for the 12 snowplows that cleared the state’s highway system.

In the Yankton region, a Beresford student submitted the winning “Frosty The Snowplow” name. The second annual naming contest is underway and runs through Nov. 30. In December, the SDDOT will announce one officially named snowplow within each of the 12 SDDOT areas.

“The contest was designed to engage people across the state with the SDDOT in a creative way,” said Transportation Secretary Joel Jundt. “Safety on our roadways is our number-one priority, and snowplow operation and winter driving awareness are vital to keeping people safe.”

The snowplows had previously made appearances at Yankton schools, according to Tanya Liska with the DOT office in Yankton. This time, the plows were taken to the two area communities as part of “Walk To School Day,” she said.

The program promotes safety of all types, including walking, bicycling and watching for cars, Liska said. The students also receive safety items such as bicycle lights, helmet lights and slot bracelets that reflected and illuminated the pedestrian or rider.

During the recent DOT visit, the students had the opportunity to inspect and even get into the snowplow for a hands-on experience, Lee said.

“Because my pre-school students are littler, everything seems so big to them,” she said. “Here, they have this big piece of equipment. They could get into the seat and see things up high. They also saw the parts with the sand and salt mixtures.”

In addition, the DOT brought a safety message covering everything from using crosswalks to watching out for vehicles. The students also learned the meaning of lights, sirens and other methods of alerting the public about a dangerous situation and the need for first responders to move quickly.

Also, the youngsters learned about the importance of giving snowplow operators enough room on the road for their work and safety, Lee said.

The snowplow operators make many sacrifices in order to serve others, Lee said.

——

“I just remember it was sometimes hard for our family,” she said. “He missed a lot of my younger brother’s activities and Christmases with the family because he was called out to work during a snowstorm. He also had to sand a lot (on the highways).”

According to his obituary, Slowey grew up in the Irene area and returned after the military to live in his home area for 25 year.

When he was promoted to foreman, he moved to Yankton, where he resided for the past 29 years. In his role as foreman, Slowey arrived first at the shop during a storm to determine the weather and road conditions before assigning roads to his crew members, Lee said.

“They would go in before a snowstorm and sleep on cots at the shop if they knew they would be needed for a three-day blizzard,” she said. “They had to take their lunches so they had food while they were gone (on duty) and were separated from their families.”

But snow wasn’t the only challenge facing the highway crews, Lee said.

“When the Jim River was flooded and they had to close the roads, Dad and the others had to stay out in their vehicles (during the flooding) to make sure everyone was all right when there was water over the bridge.”

While Slowey made sacrifices, he also received a great deal of appreciation from those whose lives relied on him and other highway workers.

“He got a lot of ‘thank-you’s’ from people in the Irene area. He always made sure that Highways 46 and 81 were cleared and they never had to worry about the icy or snowy roads,” Lee said.

“They would say, ‘We know that Dick Slowey always has our back,’ and they always felt like he treated them well.”

——

As part of the “Name The Snowplow” contest, SDDOT has created snowplow and winter driving weather awareness coloring sheets, crossword puzzles and word finds for families and classrooms. Materials are available for download at https://dot.sd.gov/media/SDDOTKids%20ActivitiesBook.pdf.

For more information and to submit a name, visit the SDDOT website at SDDOT Snowplow Naming Contest - South Dakota Department of Transportation.

South Dakota Awards 33 Local Bridge Improvement Grants - roadsbridges.com
KELOLAND - Without my seatbelt, I could’ve flown over’: SDDOT reminding everyone to buckle up
USDOT Awards Nearly $1B in INFRA Grants Across 18 States - Construction Equipment Guide
Aberdeen News - Department of Transportation details major Highway 12 upgrades
DRG News Work Zone Awareness Week Billboard Contest

Student at St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Pierre among winners of statewide work zone safety billboard contest

Pierre, SD, USA / DRGNews

Construction season is officially underway and to help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving in work zones, the Associated General Contractors of South Dakota and the South Dakota Department of Transportation recently announced the winners for the annual work zone awareness billboard campaign. Students from across the state had the opportunity to create billboards with work zone safety messages.

 

“Our partnership with the AGC and area contractors focuses on the dangers of speeding or driving distracted in work areas,” says Joel Jundt, Secretary of Transportation. “We are excited to engage youth and their families to provide a fun, yet meaningful, visual reminder that everyone plays a role to keep drivers and workers safe.”

 

The national award-winning billboard campaign, which is coordinated by AGC, gives 4th grade students the opportunity to create art designs to compete for a coveted billboard spot.

 

“What we look for is a work zone awareness message that is relatable for both students and their parents,” said Lindsay Willits, Deputy Executive Vice President for AGC. “The goal of the billboard contest is to remind motorists that safer driving habits mean safer work zones for everyone.”

 

Students with a winning entry, along with the classroom teacher, earn a cash prize. At local press events held in May, the winning entries were revealed during student assemblies. The artwork of each of the four winners is now displayed on local community billboards. The 2021 winners and their teachers are noted below by city and elementary School.

Pierre – St. Joseph’s Elementary

Student:  Allison DeMers and Teacher:  Becky Walsh

Billboard Sponsors:  Jensen Construction & Morris Inc.

Billboard location:  Corner of Highway 14/83 in Pierre/Fort Pierre

Photo credit South Dakota Department of Transportation.

Photo credit South Dakota Department of Transportation.

Photo credit South Dakota Department of Transportation.

Photo credit South Dakota Department of Transportation.

 

Bridgewater/Emery – Bridgewater/Emery Elementary

Student:  Mya Dye and Teacher:  Mary Ernster

Billboard Sponsor:  SFC Civil Constructors

Billboard location:  Interstate 90 near mile marker 364

Image credit South Dakota Department of Transportation.

 

Rapid City – St. Elizabeth Seton School
Student:  McKayla Schmidt and Teacher:  Krysia Kjerstad

Billboard Sponsor:  Simon Contractors

Billboard location:  Main Street (parallel to Halley Park in Rapid City)

Photo credit South Dakota Department of Transportation.

 

Sioux Falls – St. Lambert Elementary 

Student:  Andrea Dvoracek and Teacher:  Tammy Lauer

Billboard Sponsor:  BX-Civil and Construction

Billboard location:  Digital board – corner of 12th Street and Kiwanis in Sioux Falls

Photo credit South Dakota Department of Transportation.

 

While the billboard contest is a fun way to engage with young people about safety and construction-related careers, AGC and SDDOT reiterate the importance of the message that all motorists slow down, put down the phone or other items of distraction, and be aware of workers and equipment when driving through work zones this summer. 

Mitchell Republic - Repairs coming to Chamberlain’s "really rough" King Street

The South Dakota Department of Transportation is preparing to improve several miles of King Street in Chamberlain this summer.

The portion of road due for repairs, which stretches from the intersection of the street with Interstate 90 to the railroad bridge on the east side of Chamberlain, has been in need of repairs for some time, said Jay Peppel, the Mitchell Area Engineer for the SDDOT Mitchell Regional Office.

The regrading and widening project will be the largest road construction project for the SDDOT in the Chamberlain area this year, Peppel said, and it is expected to bring a higher level of driving quality and safety to an important section of road. While the work may cause some inconvenience at times, Peppel asked that drivers be patient with workers as they aim to complete the project.

“Just be cautious of the construction, and just be safe,” Peppel urged area drivers.

To read the entire story:  https://www.mitchellrepublic.com/news/traffic-and-construction/7027983-Repairs-coming-to-Chamberlain%E2%80%99s-really-rough-King-Street

From resurfacing roads to preventing ice jams: 6 road projects South Dakotans should know about

From resurfacing roads to preventing ice jams: 6 road projects South Dakotans should know about

Joe Sneve

Sioux Falls Argus Leader

 

The COVID-19 pandemic stalled South Dakota highway work for a time last spring, but that didn't stop the state transportation department from completing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of road construction projects.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation each year budgets about $600 million for road work all across the state's 7,800 centerline miles of road, with projects ranging from patching and overlaying highways to completely rebuilding them. Safety enhancements on existing roads also get a share of those funds.

The Argus Leader this week talked with officials at the DOT about the major projects wrapped up last year and why those investments were made. Here's the run down.

Nearly a billion pounds of asphalt in Belle Fourche area

Over in the Belle Fourche area, the DOT used 433,000 tons of asphalt hot mix to resurface 130 miles of roads.

The bulk of that work entailed 41 miles of US Highway 212 and 49 miles of US Highway 85, north of Belle Fourche.

Mike Behm, the DOT's director of planning and engineering, said resurfacing a road with an asphalt overlay can extend the overall life of a road and stave off more expensive reconstruction projects.

"It's pay me now or pay me later," he said. 

'Huge effort' in Sioux Falls

Veterans Parkway

Last year marked the connection of Interstate 90 to Veterans Parkway, the express route in eastern Sioux Falls that's been in the works for nearly a decade. 

Work started on the Veterans Parkway project in 2008 and has spanned the 7.5 miles between 57th Street and South Dakota's only east-west interstate system.

"The biggest one that we finished was the Veterans Parkway connection," Behm said. "It was really a huge effort, huge partnership with the city of Sioux Falls, Brandon and the counties."

The new highway, which partially runs along what used to be referred to as Highway 11 and Powder House Road, cost more than $121 million is expected to ease congestion on I-229 and spur new industrial activity in northeast Sioux Falls and Brandon.

Curbing curve danger

Curbing Curve Danger

South Dakota's DOT was the first in the country to begin using what's called a "high friction surface treatment" to prevent winter weather crashes in spot areas. And last season 10 highway curves with a high rate of winter crashes in the Black Hills were applied with the epoxy and bauxite rock chips that make a road surfaces less slippery during snow events.

In all, 30 curves got the treatment, running the state about $1.3 for the materials and work.

The use of high friction surface treatment started in more southern states where it was used to keep vehicles from hydroplaning during heavy rains. That caught the attention of the South Dakota DOT a few years ago, and they quickly began testing its effectiveness for winter driving on Interstate 229 along the curve between the 18th Street overpass and the 26th Street interchange.

Behm said that resulted in a 80% drop in crashes during snow events there.   

"Our goal is getting everybody home and healthy every day," he said. "So we’re always looking for improvements that may not be rebuilding a highway but helping some of those behavior aspects."

Smoothing roads and drainage

A stretch of US Highway 14 near Ft. Pierre got a makeover with a $6.6 million project that saw construction span nearly 13 miles of road.

According to the DOT's latest road project report, three box culverts and nine pipe culverts were replaced, more than 30 other culverts were cleaned and repaired and 35,000 tons of asphalt concrete was laid west of Ft. Pierre.

Preventing ice jams 

Preventing Ice Jams

Among the largest projects tackled by the DOT of late, the reconstruction of US Highway 83 between Murdo and White River isn't quite complete yet.

So far, crews have reconstructed and resurfaced three new bridges, including one over the White River that was designed to prevent flooding during springtime ice jams. The new highway will be smoother and flatter and include wider shoulders to benefit safety and drivers' comfort, according to the report.

In all, it's a $60 million project that spans 23 miles. Work is expected to continue through 2022.

Overhaul in Brookings

Brookings

The Ft. Pierre-area project wasn't the only work done to US Highway 14 last year. Another multi-year project along the highway where it's locally known as 6th Street saw not only total road reconstruction, but also drainage improvements and storm sewer upgrades.

A $4.8 million expense for the state, the project also required a lot of cooperation with the Brookings County and the city of Brookings, Behm said.

"There’s a big community connection in all the projects we do," he said. "There are a lot of public meetings, landowner meetings and what the future of the transportation needs will be in the area."

Eye on KELOland - Pierre/Ft. Pierre Bridge
Eye on KELOland - Diverging Diamonds - Rapid City & Sioux Falls
Dakota News Now - Aberdeen Hwy 12
KELOLAND - Trains do more than hold up traffic in South Dakota
Department Of Transportation Snowfighter Roadeo Combining Training With Competition To Prepare For Winter - KCCR 10/12/2022
PIERRE — The official championship of South Dakota highway snow removal is taking place today in Pierre. The South Dakota Department of Transportation Snowfighter Roadeo will see 20 qualifying drivers from the four D-O-T regions compete in various skill challenges…Listen Here

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