STURGIS | With a two-year, $28.8 million project to rebuild approximately four miles of Interstate 90 between Piedmont and Tilford all but wrapped up, now state transportation officials are eyeing a rebuild of another 8-mile segment of I-90, from Sturgis to Tilford.
Motorists on the busy corridor between Rapid City and the Northern Hills need not worry about yet another cone zone right away, however. The proposed I-90 Exit 32 to Exit 40 projects aren’t slated to begin for more than three years.
“People can breathe easy for a little while,” said Tom Horan of Rapid City, operations engineer for the South Dakota Dept. of Transportation.
Horan said the DOT plans to upgrade and rebuild the heavily traveled interstate between Sturgis and Tilford over the next decade, tackling an interchange at Exit 34 now serving Black Hills National Cemetery to the south and the Blucksberg residential area and Bureau of Land Management land to the north.
Three miles east is another interchange, Exit 37, serving Fort Meade Way, a controversial link from the interstate, allowing motorists, including Sturgis motorcycle rally bikers, to access the Buffalo Chip Campground and other points north and east of Sturgis.
Also within the scope of the project are potential redesigns or even relocation of a South Dakota Department of Public Safety Port of Entry (weigh station) west of Tilford, and changes to the Exit 40 interchange at Tilford.
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The current timeline calls for rebuilding the eastbound lanes of I-90 between Exits 32 and 40 starting with the first phase in 2022, with a second phase underway in 2024.
The rebuild is needed to replace box culverts and other drainage features nearing the end of their useful life along the rolling hills of the route, replacing interchanges that no longer meet current design standards, and address growing traffic concerns with the planned expansion of the national cemetery.
Both Exits 34 and 37 could be shifted east or west of their current locations based on design concepts presented at public presentations, the most recent on Dec. 10 in Sturgis.
“With reconstruction of the interstate we just wanted to make sure these interchanges are meeting standards,” Horan said. “So that as we move forwards into the decades beyond, that they’ll meet the needs of the public.”
Details of the planned project are available at i90exit32to40.com. Public comment on the initial planning phase of the project will be taken until Dec. 24.
More public presentations are planned for next year, Horan said.