Project to close part of Norbeck Byway
Published: Thursday, June 19th, 2014
An upcoming project to widen the roadway and construct context sensitive barriers will lead to the closure of 1.7 miles of the Peter Norbeck Scenic byway later this fall. The stretch runs from north of Sylvan Lake Lodge back to Hwy. 16A, northwest of the Hwy. 89 junction.
Rich Zacher, area engineer for the South Dakota Department of Transportation, said the project is needed because the narrow roadway combined with the steep embankment directly adjacent to the pavement edge is a dangerous mix for the traveling public. The loss of so many trees along the roadway due to the Mountain Pine Beetle infestation has only exacerbated that danger.
“For years, through those switchbacks, if a person was to leave the road, they would be stopped by trees,” he said. “Because of the bugs, those trees aren’t there anymore.”
The result, Zacher said, is the possibility of a vehicle leaving the roadway and plunging 50 feet or more down an embankment. The existing pavement is in poor condition, as well, and the ground near the embankment is eroding. The area being worked on has a three-year accident rate nearly eight times higher than the average rate for the state. Zacher said most of those accidents are motorcycles.
The plan, Zacher said, is to widen the roadway embankment with reinforced fill and to increase the total width of the driving surface seven feet by increasing the lane widths to 10 feet and adding two-foot shoulders on each side of the road. Right now the total driving surface is 17 feet.
This project will be unique in that instead of installing normal steel guardrails, the project will see rock-faced concrete barriers installed along with some weathered steel beam guardrail. When the project is finalized, landscaping will be done by hand to make the surrounding area look as it does today. Native grass and shrubs will be installed and salvaged boulders will be placed on benched slopes. Existing downed timber will also be laid down, all with the goal of blending the area in with the scenic environment.
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