UPDATE: Closed road may not keep a DOT plow from working; Patrol issues 4 citations for public travel on closed roads

KELOLAND.com Original

Photo from South Dakota Highway Patrol.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A closed road doesn’t mean snow plows stop working on them. 

At different times during the recent storm, snow plows from the South Dakota Department of Transportation were still on closed roads such as Interstate 90 and Interstate 29, said Craig Smith, the Director of Operations for the South Dakota DOT.

“Even if the Interstate is closed, there (can) still be trucks on it as long as there is visibility and conditions allow it,” Smith said.

Although the SD DOT may have been working on closed roads at times during the storm, a closed road means no travel for the public.

Tony Mangan of the South Dakota Highway Patrol said the agency issued four citations to people traveling on closed roads.

The road may be closed for travelers because of conditions but snow plows need to try and keep up with drifting and accumulated snow and ice, Smith said.

The state doesn’t want drifts to get too deep or too hard on closed roads so that snow plows can’t clear them, Smith said. Also, SD DOT plows keep cleaning closed roads because emergency vehicles such as ambulances will still need to use those roads, Smith said.

But when conditions are too bad, even the snow plows are removed from the closed roads, Smith said.

The Highway Patrol also needs to work during a storm, Mangan said.

“We look at the weather forecast and determine where staffing is needed most and adjust accordingly,” Mangan said. “When calls for service or other public safety items are needed, we may work extended shifts in a particular area.”

Even if roads are closed in some parts of the state there is still work, Mangan said.

“When roads close, there is a variety of calls for service that still need to be answered on roads that are not closed,” he said.

Smith said the state also coordinates with neighboring states on closures and openings of interstates.

I-29 was closed from Watertown north to North Dakota until 11 a.m. Monday. Smith said South Dakota coordinated with the North Dakota Department of Transportation on Monday’s opening. That way travelers aren’t backed up on a section of the interstate because it’s still closed in another state.

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