City sets sights on I-29 lighting

City sets sights on I-29 lighting by David Lias The completion of the Newcastle/Vermillion bridge doesn't mark the end of the city's efforts to improve the highway system in the region.

Now that the bridge has finally solved a transportation problem that has plagued the city for decades, Vermillion community leaders are turning their attention to the east.

To Interstate 29.

If their efforts are successful, the interchange of I-29 and Highway 50 � more commonly known as the Vermillion exit � will be easier to find at night.

County and city leaders are hoping that sometime next year, the interchange will be fully lighted, much like the Beresford exit a few miles to the north.

"We've made presentations to the Clay County Commission and Union County Commission," John Paulson, president of the Vermillion Development Company Board of Directors, told the Vermillion City Council at a recent meeting.

The two county commissions, he said, will soon make a decision on contributing funds towards the $10,000 cost of installing the lights.

"The VDC feels our job then is to find out where the rest of the funding will come from," he said, "and come back to the city council to make a recommendation with regards to how a resolution might be struck or an arrangement might be established to finish that project."

The VDC board has been in touch with officials from the South Dakota Department of Transportation.

"The project is still in," Paulson said. "We would anticipate, based on what they have indicated, that it would be completed by the fall of 2002. That's when the expenditures will come in."

He told the city council that the VDC is aware that it, too, must plan Vermillion's expenditures.

It should be known in approximately a week, Paulson said, whether any city funds will be needed to help pay for the lighting project.

One issue currently being explored is the long-term maintenance and cost of the lights. There appears to be a general agreement that the added safety the lighting will provide justifies their cost of installation.

"It's my understanding that the state has done these entirely at the state's expense under this theme (of safety)," City Manager Jeff Pederson said.

"With the state having the maintenance yard and rest area there, they may take a different look at this also for participation," Mayor Roger Kozak said. "There may be other opportunities to reduce our involvement with the state and have them become better players in it."

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