How to get to the other side

September 22, 2018

LEAD — A long debated need for a mid-block crosswalk may be coming to an end soon.

Steve Palmer from the South Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT) presented a proposal for a mid-block crosswalk on Lead Main Street between Siever Street and Stone Street to city officials at Monday’s commission meeting.

The city has been inundated with complaints and public outcry regarding the installation of a fence that was put up on the north side of Main Street when that section of the sidewalk was widened and raised to accommodate more foot traffic through downtown Lead. Business owners on that side of the street have complained that the fence, which was put up as a requirement by the DOT to safeguard against pedestrians falling onto the highway, restricts foot traffic because there is no access point between the two ends. There have been numerous accounts of people crossing from the south side of the street and scaling the fence rather than crossing at one of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant crosswalks at either end of the block.

“We do see that there’s a little bit of a safety issue,” Palmer said.

He explained that in order for the crosswalk to remain ADA compliant, it will have to be positioned mid-way between Siever Street and Stone Street rather that mid-way between the two ends of the fence which only extends from Siever Street to Bob’s Sliver Star Lounge.

“Unfortunately it’s not too far away from the railing,” Palmer said. “But it is much farther away from Stone Street where we do have ADA compliant access. Logically you’re going to look at, ‘where is the end of the railing, can I just walk around to the end of the railing,’ the department has to look at it from the stand point of ADA.”

Palmer identified the spot where The Hearst Library and the Black Hills Mining Museum meet as the only placement for the crosswalk that would be cost effective while remaining compliant with the ADA. Palmer described how the crosswalk would look on the north side of the street.

“An opening in that wall and then you’d have a flat landing area that would satisfy ADA and then you have a gentle ramp that goes up to the sidewalk.”

The ramp would extend to the right, heading east; Palmer explained that would be the most appropriate direction due to the downward slope of the street.

“If we went uphill, we’d be chasing that (gradient) uphill indefinitely,” he said.

On the south side of the street, two parking spaces would be lost, because the DOT requires no less than 20 feet on either side of the crosswalk to remain clear for pedestrians to see oncoming traffic.

City Administrator Mike Stahl said that there is no estimated cost for the mid-walk crosswalk as of yet, but that any cost would be assumed by the Department of Transportation.

“Right now I would say our official position would be that we are going to put one ADA access point at the end of the mining museum and the beginning of the library,” Mayor Ron Everett said. “It will take away two parking spots, go across the street, it will be cut in and a ramp going down, fenced in on both sides.”

Everett said that the floor would be opened up for more discussion at the next commission meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. Oct. 1.

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