The stretch of I-229 that is now reduced to one lane north and south accounts for nearly 20 percent of all crashes on interstate. That alarming statistic led the Department of Transportation to make a change, one that you'll hardly notice when it's done.
Day one of major safety improvements gets underway between 18th and 26th Streets on I-229, but not without the rain.
"Right now, they're doing the surface preparation. That's grinding the existing concrete surface that can generally be done in the rain and crews are working through the rain to get that work completed," engineer Travis Dressen said.
That grinding work will continue for the next five days, rain or shine. After that, crews place an epoxy on the surface. That's when dry weather is crucial. The epoxy will create more friction on a roadway considered high-risk for crashes in the rain or snow.
"Yeah, it's something that we continue to look at. This is just one strategy that can be used, so we thought we'd give it a try at this location. It's the first one in South Dakota," Dressen said.
It won't be the last. Two more spots in Lawrence County on Highway 14A will receive the same treatment. It's a new method for South Dakota, but there are examples of success to work with.
"There are about five states that have used this on at least five sites. There are 23 other states that have used this on at least one location, but there are still some states that haven't used it at all," Dressen said.
During construction, traffic will be reduced to one lane going north and south. The Department of Transportation will be using Facebook and Twitter to keep people updated on the progress.
"We know it's a way to reach out to a lot of people. Twitter is a good example. As those tweets go out, that number grows exponentially as the word spreads. We think it's a good way to get that information out quickly and effectively," Dressen said.
Dressen says the project should be finished by August 23, pending any weather delays.