Stretch of 385 ditch closed to off-road vehicles

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A strip of right of way along US 385 near Lead was closed to off-road vehicles Thursday.

The South Dakota Transportation Commission unanimously approved the decision.

The segment is between Hideaway Lane and Nemo Road on the west side.

State law gives the commission the authority.

Repeated use by people riding ATVs and UTVs have extensively damaged parts, according to Shannon Percy, a district park supervisor for the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks.

A piece of state-supported trail for snowmobiles in the area won’t be affected.

The U.S. Forest Service has designated an ATV/UTV trail that loops around, but the route is longer than running the 385 ditch.

“They just shoot up the highway, is what’s going on,” Percy told commissioners.

Craig Smith, director of operations for the state Transportation Department, said a meeting would be held with Forest Service officials and interested parties, possibly as early as July, to look at what could be done.

Cost for repairing the damage could run about $20,000.

Todd Seaman, DOT’s regional engineer for western South Dakota, said repair work could be started this fall. He said the ground vegetation would take a year to restore.

No one opposed the closure Thursday. Scott Wittrock of Hartford, president of the statewide ATV/UTV association, wrote letters against it.

Landowner Bill Colburn complained in January about the damage.

He told the commission Thursday that many riders use 385 but there also are riders who use the ditch.

“They’re everywhere,” Colburn said. “That’s a huge problem throughout the Hills.”

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