Lawrence County gives preliminary right-of-way approval for proposed Exit 8 rec path

January 25, 2019 GMT

DEADWOOD — The Lawrence County Commission voted Tuesday to support the use of the county right-of-way as shown in revised exhibits regarding the proposed Exit 8 shared use rec path project, subject to the typical permitting process that will occur once the design and build phases ensue. The proposed rec path would connect the residential areas in the Exit 8 vicinity to the city’s current rec path system.

In attendance at the commission meeting were: Spearfish Engineering Tech/Floodplain Administrator Tonya Vig; Spearfish City Engineer Kyle Mathis; and engineer Richard Sudmeier of FMG Engineering.

Vig and Sudmeier previously addressed the commission Dec. 12 and presented two proposed routes for the path connection. Discussions include the county, as portions of both routes run through county jurisdictions.

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

Most of the concerns were addressed in a new 17-page set of shared use path feasibility study drawings from FMG Engineering, including widening of the shoulder in some areas and moving the Hillsview Road crossing mid-block, as well as the use of fencing and signage to keep users on the path.

Tuesday, the group presented the updated alternatives .Proposed Route 1 goes from Evans Lane and Old Highway 14; Interstate 90 #1; Interstate 90 #2; Exit 8 and Old Belle Road; Mortensen Drive and College Lane. Proposed Route 2 is Hillsview Road; connection to Upper Valley Road; McGuigan Road and Hillsview Road; McGuigan Road; open area, Spearfish Pellet Company property; McGuigan Road, Arrowhead Circle and Clear Spring Road; McGuigan Road and Tumble Weed Trail; Old Belle Road, McGuigan Road and Old US Highway 14; Exit 8 and Old Belle Road. Both routes then take Old Belle Road to Russell Street.

Sudmeier said that several constraints have been worked through and a lot of time and effort has been put into the project thus far.

“In the end, we feel very strongly, this is much better to have this built for the people, for county people, including Spearfish residents to get them a trail like this and get them off of the roads that they’re already traveling on and that we’re all concerned about,” Sudmeier said. “Yes, there’s much more positives to these routes than there are negatives and we’re minimizing those exposures and contact to the pedestrians and bicyclists that are already utilizing these roads that are adjacent to these areas here.”

Commissioner Richard Sleep was the sole dissenting vote on support of the shared-use path.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea for the city to build a path and hope that people to stay on it because if it’s in a place where it’s going to be a problem, safety-wise, you’ve got to look at something else, a fence, or, something,” Sleep said.

Commissioner Randy Deibert clarified that the county has a permit process for the detail.

“So we’re not in a position to issue permits today to occupy,” said Deibert. “You’re looking for more conceptual support, so that you can turn your design team to the next level. Is that a correct assumption?”

Sudmeier said that is correct.

“We’ll have to officially apply for county right-of-way permits when we go into construction to construct these actual improvements in there. But, conceptually, we’re looking for an OK with the county,” Sudmeier said.

Lawrence County Deputy State’s Attorney Bruce Outka suggested that the parties may, in fact, be looking for any objections, as opposed to formal approval.

“One thing that we need to make sure is that we don’t spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on design, and then there’s an issue and we just aren’t able to construct this in the county right-of-way, so whether you want to state it as there are no objections to the use of the right-of-way as shown in these plans, or yes, the county’s on board with one or both of these routes,” Mathis said. “In the end, we as the city want assurances that we can build this as we go to the next step. If not, then, we have to go back to the drawing board again.”

Sleep suggested the principals get to an idea of where they want to go and felt the commission should go out to talk to the people they represent in the county and see how they feel.

“Either put it up to a vote or not, I don’t know that we’re just going to jump in,” Sleep said. “What, is this the second time you’ve been here? I wouldn’t even mind going and walking it. I probably don’t have as good an imagination as where those right-of-ways are on there. I think I know, but I don’t know completely, but I’m not going to jump in and say I’m for any of it right now. I think we need a little more time.”

Commissioner Brandon Flanagan then made a motion to approve use of the county rights-of-way as shown in the exhibits, with the understanding that any permits must go through the permitting process.

Commissioner Randall Rosenau expressed concern about liability issues.

“I’m assuming that would be part of this from the very beginning, or is that going to come in during the permitting?” Rosenau asked.

Deibert said he sees a couple of things that have to be worked out.

“That is the hold harmless, insurance, the maintenance, but to be fair with the consultant and the city, where are they comfortable moving forward?” Deibert asked. “I think it’s important that we’re not giving them a blank check to go out and occupy the right-of-way here, we’re just saying that we support the concept and think that’s the intent, so they can move forward with some surety.”

“It’s a concern that we need to address at some point,” Rosenau said. “Probably sooner than later, as far as those aspects go.”

Vig said there are the same issues that need to be addressed with the Department of Transportation, and she intends to do that.

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.

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

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