Sturgis Rally prompts traffic pattern changes from DOT

The 78th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is just two weeks away, and the South Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT) is gearing up for the traffic increase.

The DOT will once again put up temporary traffic signals, and will lower the speed limit in several locations throughout the Black Hills:

  • On Interstate 90, the speed limit will be reduced from 75 mph to 65 mph from Exit 55 in Rapid City to Exit 30 in Sturgis.
  • On SD 34 in Sturgis, the speed limit will be reduced from 45 mph to 35 mph for 3.8 miles East of Blanche Street.
  • On SD 79, the speed limit will be reduced from 65 mph to 45 mph from the junction of SD 34 to the Iron Horse Campground.

According to SD DOT Region Traffic Engineer Jon Suomala, the reduction of speed limits are meant to make the speeds of cars and bikes on the road more consistent. 

"We see significant decreases in operating speeds and rather than having certain vehicles still going 75 miles per hour and others going much slower, we reduce it to get everyone going close to the same speed," Suomala said.

Suomala also said that there will be several intersections where portable traffic signals will be used to control the flow of traffic. Temporary signals can be found at these intersections:

  • US 16 and US 385
  • US 385 and SD 44
  • SD 34/79 and the Ft. Meade Entrance
  • SD 34/79 and 11th St.
  • SD 34 and SD 79
  • SD 34 and Ft. Meade Way
  • US 14A and US 85

As the roads fill up with all types of vehicles, officials urge people to drive with caution. Mike Carlson, the Rapid City engineer with the DOT, said that drivers should exercise caution when driving on the roads during the Rally.  

"At times, they may not being paying attention to you because they’re looking out at things," said Carlson. "They may be relatively new riders or drivers, and so they don’t have the expeirence we normally see on our highways, and so we really have to watch out for them."

As for local construction projects, Carlson said that most of the construction will be complete. 

Construction along Interstate 90 in Piedmont, and on the Haines and Maple Street bridges in Rapid City will be open by July 27. West Chicago Street construction however will continue during the Rally.