Dangerous turn presents problems in Keystone

By Jeff Smith

Keystone’s infamous bridge that doesn’t have a home and sits on the side of a road. The town would like to place it over the creek on Madill St. but it doesn’t fit the needed requirements.

Early in the morning on Jan. 29, Dean Bottorff was crossing the bridge on South Dakota Highway 40, near the junction of Madill St. and Harney St. when he was nearly struck by a vehicle traveling at what appeared to be excessive speed.

Madill St. is the only way to cross the creek that is there at the beginning of Watson Park. In the park itself there is a footbridge, which is near the Keystone Community Center.

A “bridge to nowhere” has been in Keystone for about three years and Keystone has wanted to use it at that particular place.

Bottorff said it is the Department of Transportation’s responsibility to do something and not the Town of Keystone’s. He said right now it’s not a huge problem because he can walk across the road and see that no one is coming.

“But occasionally a car will come speeding past,” Bottorff said.

Cassandra Ott, city clerk, said that it’s tough because a sheriff can’t sit there all day.

At the Feb. 7 meeting, Bottorff spoke about the incident and the need for a bridge there.

Jerry Przybylski, public works superintendent, said that he has talked with Rich Zacher, SDDOT engineer, about the bridge.

“He didn’t specifically like our bridge because they wanted a wider bridge than our bridge to nowhere,” Przybylski said. “We just can’t put the bridge there.”

Bottorff wrote a letter to he Keystone town board and the South Dakota Department of Transportation about the experience he had.

“Although, thankfully I was unhurt, the vehicle (a white sedan) passed only inches away from me and I do not believe the driver was ever aware of my presence,” Bottorff writes in his letter.

At first Bottorff was thinking the driver of the car was being a jerk. But then he thought that he might not have been seen by the driver.

It occurred to Bottorff that as tourism season approaches there are going to be people in the hotels who are going to be walking in the direction of Watson Park.

“It presents a risk. When I talked to Vanessa she explained the situation. Somebody needs to do something,” Bottorff  said.

If damage or incident were to happen in the area the fault shouldn’t be placed on the Town of Keystone, Bottorff said.

At least one person has died there as evidenced by a fatality marker not far from the bridge cars travel on.

At the meeting Przybylski mentioned one of the problems with the current bridge is that there are not two wheelchair accessible ramps which would be needed.

Ott said they can’t do anything without going through the whole process. A plan would have to be approved by the state.

“We’re trying to be conservative with our money and the ‘bridge to nowhere’ is not a priority right now,” Ott said.

President of the town board, Sandi McLain, said it would be a good idea to put a sign up near the crossing that a sharp turn is coming up. The Town of Keystone couldn’t put signs up but it would need to be carried out by the State of South Dakota. Signs were up at one time but they were in Department of Transportation Right of Way and had to be moved.

Bottorff doesn’t think signs would fix the issue because people drive at a max speed of 55 MPH or more on that street and won’t see the pedestrians.