Road Construction Scheduled at Badlands National Park
Contact: Mark Gorman, (605) 433-5230
BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK, S.D. --Beginning August 29, Badlands National Park will be replacing a storm drain under the Badlands Loop Road (South Dakota Highway 240) near the Ancient Hunters Overlook between the Pinnacles Overlook and the Conata Road. Construction is expected to begin August 29 and continue for 30 days. In an effort to accommodate visitors and local traffic, little or no construction will occur over the weekends. During weekdays, visitors and local residents can expect up to 30 minute delays between the Conata Road and the Pinnacles Overlook. A pilot car will be used to lead traffic through a one-lane section of road which will be maintained for public access through the park. Construction will begin around 6 am and will continue until dark. No traffic delays are expected on weekends and after 6 pm during the week because two lanes will be made available for traffic. The public is advised to use caution while travel through the construction area. Please drive safely and use caution around heavy equipment throughout the construction area.
"We are extremely sorry for any inconvenience this project will have on our visitors and neighbors. During the initial planning stage, there was talk of closing the road completely during the construction project, but we were able to get that modified so the impact will not be as great for our guests and park neighbors who routinely use this route to attend school, church service or go to work," said Chief Ranger Mark Gorman.
Park managers first became aware of this drain problem during a series of routine inspections. Special engineers and equipment- including cameras mounted on remote controlled vehicles- were brought in to evaluate the road, drainage issues beneath the road, and the storm drainage system itself. Active erosion and geologic slumping over the past several years has affected the stability of the road. Cross drainage piping will be replaced and erosion control devices will be installed at this section of the Badlands Scenic Byway (SD Highway 240) to fix the drainage problem and stabilize the road. The construction project, which is being managed by Federal Highway Administration, is being performed by S&L Construction. Special efforts are being taken to protect bighorn sheep which are known to reside in the area. Wildlife protection measure includes fencing around heavy equipment and dust abatement.
Did You Know?
The yellow and red layers in the badlands formations are fossilized soils, called paleosols. Fossil root traces, burrows, and animal bones found within the soils provide scientists with evidence of environmental and climatic changes that occurred in the badlands over time.