Group Pushes Four-Lane Highway Expansion in S.D.

Fri November 23, 2007 - Midwest Edition

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) A group pushing for a four-lane highway between Aberdeen and Mobridge believes such a project would cost about $100 million.

The benefits of the project would be economic development and safer travel, said Dennis Wheeler, a Mobridge city councilman who’s heading what’s called the Dakota Expressway Expansion Task Force.

The group held its first meeting in October.

Wheeler said members realize it will take plenty of time and work to convince transportation officials and politicians that expanding the highway is a worthy venture.

The $100 million figure is based on the cost of building the Eastern Dakota Expressway four-lane between Groton and Summit.

Jim Barringer, head of the Aberdeen Development Corp., said the communities along the Aberdeen-Mobridge route would have to prove the expansion would be economically wise. In the case of Highway 12 between Groton and Summit, a feasibility study showed expanding it to four lanes would boost economic development, Barringer said.

The Mobridge, Aberdeen and Roscoe city governments have already passed resolutions of support for the highway expansion. Now, Wheeler said, the task force’s aim is to get other communities along the route to do the same.

The best chance of getting the highway expanded could be a federal government appropriation or earmark, said Clint Rux, who has been appointed as the Aberdeen City Council’s task force member.

If a new power plant were to be built in Walworth County, as is being considered, that could boost the highway undertaking, Rux said.

“I’m not going to lie to people, this is an uphill battle. Look how long it took to get a four-lane here to Aberdeen from the interstate,” he said.