PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Some new technology could help motorcyclists and other drivers more safely make their way through several dangerous corners in South Dakota’s Black Hills.
The state Transportation Commission decided Thursday to go ahead with a project for US 14A in the Central City area and in Boulder Canyon between Sturgis and Deadwood.
That was despite receiving just one bid of $562,636.00, from Traffic Services Company of Black Hawk, which was 50.8% above the state Department of Transportation’s estimate.
DOT’s Sam Weisgram recommended approval because, he said, the safety benefit would still be favorable. The project was based on crash data from spots where motorcyclists have run off the road because they were traveling too fast to get through the curve.
“These systems should help reduce those types of accidents moving forward,” Weisgram said.
The system uses radar detection that triggers a warning and then signs through the corner light up sequentially. Two locations will use solar power while the third will be hard-wired for electricity.
Weisgram said a similar system has been installed near Deadwood on US 385.
“Any time we have one bidder, it always raises concern,” commissioner Lynn Jensen of Lake Preston said. “Why do you think we’re off fifty percent on our estimate?”
Weisgram said the department doesn’t have a lot of experience with the systems. “Our contractors, this is new to them too,” he said.
One complication is that the main contractor needs to bring in an electrical contractor. “It’s pretty small in nature, the scope of work, and requires some coordination between contractors,” Weisgram said.
The goal is to get the units in place before the 2023 tourist season.
“We do feel there is a big benefit in getting this work done because of the safety enhancement it will provide,” Weisgram said.
The commission awarded nine of 10 projects Thursday. A shared-use path at Spearfish will be re-offered at a later date.