Fruitful discussion held

Fruitful discussion held Ronald Peterson, area engineer of the South Dakota Department of Transportation, answers questions about the pending Cherry Street improvement project at the April 4 meeting of the Vermillion City Council. By David Lias Many people apparently were unhappy with a recent open house held in Vermillion by state Department of Transportation officials to describe planned improvements to Cherry Street.

Ronald Peterson, Yankton, area engineer of the state DOT, returned to Vermillion April 4 to try again.

He gave a lengthy description of the work planned for the street at a meeting of the Vermillion City Council, and stayed to answered questions posed by aldermen and citizens.

�I know many folks here in Vermillion came away from our public hearing with a lot of unanswered questions,� Peterson said. �The open house format tends to do that. We�ve had some good luck with that, and some bad luck with that, and maybe this was one of those times where we had bad luck.�

Bids for the estimated $4.6 million improvement project on the street will be let in late 2006, he said. Construction of the 2.5 mile long Cherry Street will begin in early 2007, and hopefully be completed in two years.

DOT officials have sent letters and held meetings with property owners who will be directly affected by the street project.

Peterson said the contractor will decide whether to begin work on the west end or east end of the street. Since it is a two year project, he estimates that the first year�s work will end at Dakota Street.

Cherry Street will, in fact, be three different segments of road. Improvement on its west end will begin at James Street.

�That will stay a rural section up to about Cottage Avenue,� Peterson said. �We�re going to widen that section of road, and lower it. We�re going to make it from a two-lane roadway with shoulders to a three-lane, with a left turn lane in the middle and good wide shoulders on it.�

Cherry Street will also be three lanes wide from Cottage Avenue up through Dakota Street and through the USD campus.

�It will have one lane each direction, a center turn lane in the middle, and new curb and gutter roughly in the same place it is now,� Peterson said. �The street (in that section) is not going to get any wider, but we will be adding some right turns at selected intersections.�

From the east side of the USD campus to Crawford Road on Vermillion�s east city limits, Cherry Street will be widened to a five-lane section.

�We will have two lanes going east, two lanes going west, with a center turn lane in the middle,� Peterson said.

He noted that the DOT has discovered through analysis that three-lane and five-lane streets are much safer in urban settings than two- and four-lane roadways.

�Current traffic counts are approximately 10,400 vehicles a day,� Peterson said, �from the east in the more commercialized development area. In the western area near Hy-Vee, there�s about 5,000 vehicles per day.�

Cherry Street was originally constructed in 1952, with the last improvement coming in 1980.

�The pavement is worn out, and is at the end of its usable life,� he said.

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