Road conditions in rural Minnehaha County

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RENNER, S.D. (KELO)– It’s been more than a month since flooding hit KELOLAND, but many rural roads are still washed out and dangerous to drive on.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office posted a picture on Facebook showing everyone why you shouldn’t be driving on gravel roads.

Deputies say this truck got stuck in the mud just northwest of Tea. That’s not the only area we’re looking at. Depending on where you drive, it’s not all that bad on paved highways in rural Minnehaha County. However, several arteries that lead into smaller towns are still rough and affecting people who depend on them to make a living or even save lives. 

“It’s black gumbo. I don’t even know what it is,” Jon Siemonsma said.

What it is is Ditch Road, or at least it was. Flooding washed out the still-closed road near Renner. 

“The gravel roads are in really rough shape. Lot of soft spots. Lot of washouts,” Siemonsma said.

In this case, all of the water doesn’t help firefighters. Siemonsma, Renner’s volunteer fire chief,  says the roads are creating challenges and detours for his crews. 

“Some of our bigger trucks are heavy, obviously. On the county roads, fine. Gravel roads, not so good. We’ve got to be really careful where we’re going, how we’re getting there, and our speeds,” Siemonsma said. 

“We’re just encouraging people to try to get on pavement as soon as they can,” DJ Buthe, Minnehaha County Highway Superintendent, said. 

Buthe says most of the county highways are in better shape, and down to one closure on Highway 155. He says the county will spend $1 million on replacing damaged culverts, which isn’t due to extreme weather. 

“So, we knew they were bad. The weather and the flooding and stuff made them a lot worse, but we were already planning on replacing them,” Buthe said. 

More are coming this summer. Buthe says there are a lot of construction projects on deck to replace 22 bridges and culverts, and reconstruct or maintain 60 miles of paved road. The project should last about four to five months. Buthe knows the entire area is taking a toll on farmers who need all of the roads to be in good shape. 

“We do know they’ve had quite a bit of issues getting around and getting their dairy products to market. Getting their milk in,” Buthe said.

With all of this so-called black gumbo, the weather has certainly stirred the pot in rural areas. That’s why Siemonsma is ready for drier weather. 

“Oh, yeah. I think everybody is. Everybody’s tired of the rain. Everybody is tired of the cold. Everybody wants summer,” Siemonsma said. 

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