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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Five Lanes for Madison's 34? Wrong Lane, DOT....

Someone at Four for the Future is thinking, "Can't anyone in Pierre read a memo?"

Local boosters have been pushing to expand Highway 34 east of Madison from two to four lanes all the way to I-29. Now Scott Jansen from the South Dakota Department of Transportation has come through for us, saying that state officials want to make Highway 34 a five-lane road... through Madison.

Don't worry, DeLon (and fellow Blizzard lovers): SDDoT isn't planning to bulldoze Dairy Queen. The engineers just want to repaint 2nd Street and Washington Avenue: erase the stripes, draw a fat yellow turning lane down the middle, and draw skinny little lanes on either side.

According to MDL's Chuck Clement, Jansen told the Madison City Commission Monday that SDDot came to Madison and Discovered the Unexpected™: 18 left-turn related accidents from 2004 to 2006.

Jansen says center turn lanes in other towns have reduced accidents 10% to 30%. Jansen says he also expects to get phone calls and complaints if the changes are made.

Gee, why wait that long?
Squeeze five lanes into four? Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Anyone remember how narrow the lanes felt on 6th Street in Brookings? Those of us who prefer to ride bicycle do. Cars come close enough as it is to us cyclists; we don't need those side mirrors coming any closer.

Engineer Jansen says narrower lanes won't be a problem, since newer cars are typically smaller. Engineer Jansen must not have noticed all the pickup trucks, trailers, tractors, and whatever giant SUVs may have rolled off Prostrollo's lot lately that can use all the room on Madison's streets that they can get.

Does Engineer Jansen remember what happened last time the state blessed us with a center turn lane? When the state redid Highway 34 (help me out here: was it 1991?), the engineers slapped a big turning lane right down the middle. Lake County drivers didn't know what the heck to do with it. It seemed like a waste of concrete to have that big center strip lying empty 99% of the time. Within a year, the state relaid the stripes (that's why the concrete seams run down the middle of the driving lanes west of town).

That change increased the West 34 from three lanes to four, but we had shoulder to spare out by Nicky's and the F&M. In town, we don't have that wiggle room. A center turn lane in town on 34 is just overkill. It will make driving through town more dangerous, not less, for motorists and cyclists alike. The only was a center turn lane would work is if we physically widened the highway... and I'm thinking my property-owning friends along 34 would have a few words to say about that.*

We don't need to rejigger Highway 34 in town. Neighbors, just start using your left blinker sooner, and keep your eyes peeled. Engineer Jansen, pick up your slide rule and your extra lane and take 'em out east of town, where the nice folks on Lake Madison want 'em.

*Besides, adding a lane would mean Dollar General would have to move its sign, and we can't have that.


  1. Adding the extra lane is a dumb idea, but I think the stoplight at 2nd and Washington is a good idea.

  2. I totally agree with you Cory on this one.
    If there's such a rash of accidents I'm surprised the city father's haven't wanted to put up stop signs. That seems to be their solution to most intersections, make it a 4 way stop.

  3. Want to see what it will look like? Drive through Watertown and notice how many side-swipe accidents people have since they went from four lanes to five with a center turning lane. The lanes are so tight that truck mirrors touch and when roads are snow-covered, look out. This plan would cause elderly drivers the most agony, and we have many elderly drivers. The number of accidents is minimal compared to what it would be with five lanes.

  4. If you want to put fives lanes in, then you'll have to widen the whole road. Don't let some pencil-pusher ruin our town.

  5. Those numbers again:
    --Scott Jansen, Mitchell Region Traffic Engineer: 605-995-8136
    --Mitchell Region SDDoT Office: 605-995-8129.
    --Better call your city commissioners, too.

  6. You think some of the cops are bad now for "lane driving" charges, just wait for narrower lanes! They will be able to stop any car they want.

  7. All of you anonymous "criers" can stop worrying about the city police picking on you poor citizens. We are not in a Nazi state, and you will appreciate those some policemen when you are in trouble. Policemen are not workers at your whim and convenience, where they protect you but don't "pick" on you when you are wrong.
    As far as the five lane system, evidently none of you have been on the northbound lanes on Washington at the 2nd Street intersection when both lanes try to merge into one lane simultaneously on the north side of the intersection. Scares the hell out of me sometimes ----- however, no more than the attitude of some of you citizens who sometimes reject change without reason. I would venture a very good guess that once again none of you, including you Cory, were at the meeting to hear the explanation of the five lane system, nor to contest it. You base all arguments on hearsay and are therefore uninformed judges and "experts" of the topic. If many of you would simply get out of your easy chairs and off your rumps to actively attend our discussions, I would value your ideas much more. Until that time, I pay very little credence to most of what this blog discusses. Cory, stop inviting negative attitudes about things you only read about. And none of you tell me that you are too busy to be at our meetings. If that is true, you are too busy to offer valuable advice to those who were there and were involved.

  8. Oh, Dan. I'll look forward to the detailed minutes in the next agenda.

    I'm not worried about fascism, and I'll agree that the Washington and 2nd intersection could use a rational lane redesign (and a second stoplight? are we ready for such progress? ;-) ). But I must agree with the above commenter who noted the narrow lanes in Watertown. If the center turning lane extends through any significant length of town, it's going to feel crowded, whether I'm riding my bike or hauling Dad's skidsteer to town on the trailer.

    Just curious: could I get a permit to divert traffic on 2nd street for about ten minutes? I'd like to get five friends together, have them line up four cars side by side on the highway, then line up five, see how it looks. Or could we have the commissioners do that before Monday's meeting? You know, dry run, this design, see how it feels!

  9. Boy Bohl, the more you talk the bigger (another name for a donkey) you become. I hope we can get more elected officials like you. I love your arogance.

    Instead of narrowing the lanes and such. How about a stop light and maybe improved painting of the lanes and some signs before the intersection to explain which lane can go in wich direction.

    Bohl's Biggest Fan

  10. Arrogant? No, Dan just has the guts to speak his mind and put his name to it, unlike various lily-livered commenters here.

    Anon, your policy arguments might have more weight if you didn't waste your time (and everyone else's) with silly personal attacks.


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