Some farmers in Brown County are voicing safety concerns with commissioners as harvest approaches. With construction going on, they say a route leading to a major elevator in the Aberdeen area isn't safe.
The intersection of a Brown County Highway 14 and a U.S. Highway 12 sees an influx in truck traffic during harvest. The South Dakota Department of Transportation is in the middle of a construction project on Highway 12.
"I mean that's a nightmare without construction. You'll sit there five to ten minutes with the semi and you'll just have to go," Blake Ronning said at a county commission meeting.
The SDDOT says there are workers at the intersection at times during construction, helping control traffic and allowing trucks to turn. A nearby South Dakota Wheat Growers elevator and farmers want that help during harvest. They also told Brown County commissioners they want alternate routes.
"This is getting critical, folks. I tell you, there's going to be somebody killed down here," Richard Traphagen said.
Some of the county and township roads that could serve as alternatives ban truck traffic. An ailing bridge south of the small town of Columbia is adding to concerns as well.
Loaded trucks haven't been able to cross it for years. Now it can't handle empty trucks either, and delays have pushed replacing it back to next year. That potentially sends more trucks to the intersection of Brown County Highway 14 and U.S. Highway 12.
Commissioners say they'll look into opening an alternate route near the elevator to truck traffic during harvest as long as it stays dry.
"But if it gets to be a wet fall, it's not going to hold up. I can guarantee you it's not," Brown County Highway Superintendent Jan Weismantel said.
If that happens, there is another route on county roads farmers could take, but it'll add more miles to their trip.
The Wheat Growers elevator near the intersection can take up to 450 trucks a day. It says close to a third travel down Brown County Highway 14.