This winter, S.D. plows will run longer hours from Rapid City area west to Wyoming border

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota’s plan for clearing highways will be upgraded this winter.

The new version calls for extra coverage from Sturgis to the Wyoming border.

That’s in addition to continuing extended service on routes in the Sioux Falls and Rapid City areas.

The state Transportation Commission approved the 92-page plan Wednesday.

At the same time state officials want to spend less.

“FY19, we had budgeted roughly $21.8 million. Our actual was $26.6 million that we had last year. Budget for this year, we’re looking at $21.1 million,” Tony Ondricek told commissioners.

He oversees winter maintenance for the state Department of Transportation.

DOT wants to use tow plows more.

“The tow plow really saves. It saves roughly 50 cents a mile, but that’s plus the cost of an operator. So when we’re looking at that cost savings it really comes in to not having that additional round of that operator out there with another truck. You’re doing one pass that would normally take two trucks,” Ondricek said.

A tow plow can clear a path of highway about 30 feet wide. DOT’s fleet now has 16.

Jason Humphries, who’s handled the winter maintenance plan in past years, said DOT is also looking at changes to the Safe Travel USA information system.

The 2020 plan is here.

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