PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The 65-mph speed limit on Interstate 90 in the Sioux Falls area might be expanded, so that it reaches east to include motorists entering and leaving the new Veterans Parkway at exit 402.
A panel of state lawmakers will decide next month whether the change that the state Transportation Commission made July 27 can take effect.
The state Department of Transportation is also considering whether to extend the 65 mph zone even farther east, possibly all the way to South Dakota’s border with Minnesota.
The speed limit on I-90 is 70 mph in Minnesota. Most of I-90 across South Dakota is 80 mph, outside the Sioux Falls and Rapid City areas, throughout the year.
The 65 mph limit also is in effect for 11 days each August on the stretch of I-90 in the Sturgis through Rapid City area during the the Sturgis motorcycle rally.
The Legislature’s Rules Review Committee is scheduled to consider the proposed change for the Veterans Parkway exit on September 12. The lawmakers also will look at a proposal to extend the 25-mph zone on US 385 in Hot Springs.
Karla Engle, an attorney for the state Department of Transportation, explained to the Transportation Commission that the goal of the slower speeds is to improve safety.
The proposed changes were sent to the mayors of Brandon, Sioux Falls and Hot Springs and to the sheriffs of Minnehaha and Fall River counties. They supported the changes, according to Engle, and in the case of Hot Springs, city officials sought the change.
The department received no written comments from the public and no one showed up to testify either way at the July 27 public hearing.
Engle told the state commission there have been 60 crashes in the stretch of I-90 between the Veterans Parkway and I-229 exits since the Veterans Parkway exit opened. She said there’s also a vertical curve on the eastbound lanes of I-90 just before the Veterans Parkway exit. “We want to slow them down so they have more time to make that decision,” she said.
Commission chair Jafar Karim of Rapid City asked about extending the 65-mph zone farther east.
“There may be additional changes that come to you on that issue,” Engle said.
Commissioner Mike Vehle of Mitchell was a state senator when the Legislature raised the speed limit to 80 mph for most of I-90 and most of I-29 in 2015. He said motorists traveling west from Minnesota at 70 mph reach the South Dakota border and speed up to 80 mph for a few miles only to have to slow again to 65 mph as they approach Sioux Falls.
“I think we need to be careful there. And I don’t know what that number would be. Sioux Falls is going to grow, more than likely,” Vehle said.
Transportation Secretary Joel Jundt said that stretch is on some of his staff’s minds. “We’ve already got it on our to-do list,” Jundt said.
The proposed change on US 385 would extend the 25-mph zone about three-tenths of a mile in Hot Springs to the intersection with US 18. That short stretch currently is 35 mph. The area is under construction, with pedestrian crossings being added.
“We’re expecting increased bicycle and pedestrian traffic on this highway,” Engle said.