Developers, not county taxpayers, will have to pony up to build a secondary access road linking remote housing tracts to S.D. Highway 44 east of Rapid City, Pennington County Commissioners decided Tuesday.

The commission voted 4-1 to cease any further planning for a 1.3-mile extension of Back Country Trail to South Airport Road, located south of Highway 44, approximately 8 miles east of Rapid City. Commissioners Ron Buskerud, Lloyd LaCroix, Deb Hadcock and Mark DiSanto voted to end the project, while George Ferebee voted against ceasing it.

“Whoever wants to develop out there is going to have to do something about it, not us,” said Pennington County Highway Superintendent Tom Wilsey after the commission’s decision.

“Basically what this is saying is, you want to build out there, you’re going to have to pony up."

Wilsey said commissioners had requested an estimated cost of a secondary access road linking Back Country Trail to South Airport Road.

The initial request was prompted by concerns residents had over deterioration of a bridge spanning Rapid Creek on Bradsky Road, currently providing the only direct access to Back Country Trail.

The bridge is slated to be replaced this year at a cost of $617,817, in an 80/20 split of federal and county funds, with the county’s portion of the project listed at $123,584.

Wilsey told the commission adding approximately 6,000 feet of county roadway linking Back Country Trail to another bridge on South Airport Road would cost approximately $200,000, with the county then becoming liable for maintaining not only the new road, but also 1,300 feet of existing Back Country Trail at an annual cost of $7,600.

“We’re requesting that you advise us if you wish us to proceed with this project,” Wilsey told commissioners.

A highway department memo to the commission estimated survey costs of $10,000 for the project, with plan preparation to take about three months and construction, if approved, to take about two months.

Wilsey said adding the secondary road to the scheduled bridge repair project would require an additional environmental study of up to 18 months and could delay the bridge project, currently slated for completion in August, by up to two years.

In comments made outside of the meeting, Wilsey said there are 56 homes in three developments currently served by the Bradsky Road. County recommendations, he said, stipulate that developments with over 40 residences have more than one access road. 

“That breaks that code,” he said.

But commissioners said the county is tasked only with building and maintaining bridges on existing county roads, while costs for additional access roads are up to developers.

“We have to remember that bridges by statute are our responsibility," Buskerud said. "Roads to developments out in the country aren’t our responsibility."

In other action Tuesday, the commission:

• Made good on a decision made at its Dec. 19 meeting to reinstate funds to the 2018 county budget to cover the cost of security for the Pennington County Administration Building.

Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom had included cutting the equivalent of 1.5 security jobs in the amount of $72,869, as part of a total of $434,064 worth of cuts from various programs under the sheriff’s supervision, including law enforcement, alcohol and drug treatment, the county jail, juvenile detention and a sobriety monitoring program.

But county employees railed against proposed cut in security, which includes an officer stationed at a highly visible desk at the building’s main entrance.

Commissioners decided Tuesday to pay for the the cost of the security position, as well as the $7,013 cost of a county treasurer satellite office in Wall, through the use of $165,000 in contingency funds in the 2018 county budget.

• Elected Lloyd LaCroix as 2018 commission chairman succeeding Deb Hadcock. Mark DiSanto is vice chairman.

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