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Lawrence County weighs in on proposed Exit 8 Shared-Use Community path

December 18, 2018

DEADWOOD — Following an hour-long discussion Tuesday on the proposed Exit 8 Shared-Use Community Path, the Lawrence County Commission gave an initial show of support for the project concept and also offered several suggestions.

Tonya Vig, Spearfish floodplain administrator, and Richard Sudmeier of FMG Engineering presented the options. Proposed Route 1 begins at the Evans Lane and Old Highway 14 intersection and heads west toward Exit 8. Approximately 1,300 feet of this route is proposed along the north side of Old Highway 14.

Proposed Route 2 begins south of Hillsview Road and heads west and north toward Exit 8. Approximately 4,800 feet of this route is proposed on the east side of McGuigan Road, right of way up to Exit 8, then the remaining length along Old Belle Road is approximately 2,800 feet, all within the right-of-way.

The discussion included the county, as portions of both recently proposed path routes run through county jurisdictions.

Sudmeier asked to clarify whether Hillsview Road is within county jurisdiction.

“It is currently but should revert back to the city of Spearfish,” said Commissioner Brandon Flanagan.

The commission stated they are in support of the safety benefits incorporated into the current proposed plans but voiced concerns, including truck traffic on McGuigan Road, crossing on Hillsivew Road, and ongoing right-of-way encroachment on Old Highway 14, the north side of Old Highway 14, and areas that get very wet in the spring.

“We’ve been concerned on the other side of Highway 14 people parking and whatever in the right-of-way and that because of our liability,” said Commissioner Richard Sleep. “It’s going to be just as bad or worse with foot traffic or bicycle traffic on the other side of the road. Our liability isn’t going to go away.”

In regard to the second proposed route, Lawrence County Deputy State’s Attorney Bruce Outka asked why the crossing is along Hillsview Road and not at an intersection.

“This makes zero sense,” said Flanagan. “I drive this road every day. … there’s way less truck traffic turning into here than there is vehicle traffic. That’s right in the middle of a 30-mile-an hour.”

Sudmeier said he believes there are issues the private owners have.

Sleep pointed to the jut to the west off of Tumbleweed, toward McGuigan Road, a crossing Commissioner Randy Deibert was concerned about, as well.

“We’re promoting the Neiman Sawmill truck traffic down to McGuigan Road, there, and I don’t think you want to run kids and bicycles and people across that way,” Sleep said. “Truck traffic shouldn’t have to stop, either. They should be able to continually use that road from Highway 14 to the sawmill without having to stop for traffic. It’s a lot easier for traffic to stop for them than it is for them to stop for other people.

“The point is, that truck traffic used to go up and down Main Street, then they had a problem and they built Exit 8, so they could go up and down that way and now we’re creating the same problem within the city,” Sleep added. “Neiman’s employs a lot of people, and they affect a lot of other people. To me, the road was built for them. We better make sure they have a priority in safety and stopping and going and everything.”

Sudmeier agreed with the concerns.

“But we have to plan for something through there, because that’s where the growth is going to be at,” he said. “And eventually, that’s going to get choked down and so the county and the city need to work proactively work on what’s the plan going to be for this road coming in the future? Is there going to be stop lights put up on Old Highway 14?”

Commissioner Daryl Johnson said he has extensive experience riding bikes and offered input on how cyclists navigate certain areas and how to better accommodate them.

Cost estimates for both options include expenses related to the construction of each route and are broken down by surfacing options. Route 1, if constructed with reinforced concrete, is estimated at $1.49 million; if built with asphalt concrete pavement, approximately $1.13 million; and if built with packed crusher fines, approximately $905,000.

Route 2, if constructed with reinforced concrete, is estimated at $1.84 million; if built with asphalt concrete pavement, approximately $1.25 million; and if built with packed crusher fines, approximately $835,000.

“I’m generally in support of helping on this kind of thing any way I can, but to put some of the stuff you’re talking about - curb and gutter, retaining walls, and stuff, you’re talking about more expense than we put into a chunk of road, because that is, it’s a lot of money,” said Flanagan, suggesting alternative surface paths in some areas and widened shoulders in some areas to help mitigate the costs.

The city of Spearfish has budgeted $1.5 million for design and construction of the project.

“We’re going to take your concerns into advisement, here,” Sudmeier said.

Deibert asked if Vig and Sudmeier were looking for an indication that the county would cooperate.

“Yes, and either route that we choose, that you would be willing to work with us on the right-of-way or grant us easements … we know there will be easements and liability issues and language the attorney will have you work out … we’re looking for easements on either route that you would support, so we can continue on with our design,” Vig said.

Flanagan said he is generally in support of expanding bike paths and that he likes to see shoulders widened.

Johnson said that he is always in support of making routes safer: “For bicycle riders and pedestrians. And I would, in general, be supportive of some kind of a plan.”

Sleep said he wouldn’t support the plan the way it is now.

“It needs to be safer and take truck traffic into more consideration,” Sleep said. “They’re a big part of Spearfish, but they get downplayed all the time. I don’t think that’s fair to do that.”

Any changes to the plans would be presented to the Spearfish City Council for its recommendations in the near future.

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