A group of vision-minded local residents, Sturgis Rally supporters, community leaders and ranchers are responding to the Meade County Commission’s efforts to provide vital access to I-90 by forming an alliance to help fund the construction of a 4.5-mile bikers’ scenic byway. Those who will enjoy the many benefits of the road, including avoiding long, hot rally traffic jams each year, now have the opportunity to help build one of the most sought-after scenic access roads in the Black Hills. While the Meade County Commission has budgeted for part of the construction cost, the development is projected to be $1 million short. For this reason, the group is asking residents, suppliers, ranchers, truckers, tourists, rally businesses and motorcycle enthusiasts who would benefit from the new scenic byway to help contribute toward its completion. The roadway, aptly named “Fort Meade Way,” will safely offer visitors and residents alike an unfettered, scenic route between I-90 Exit 37 and Highways 34 and 79, Fort Meade Veterans Hospital, Bear Butte, and the rally campgrounds and concert venues east of Sturgis. The group is asking anyone who can contribute toward the construction of the new access road to do so at www.BikersScenicByway.com.
While many roads across the nation are funded through toll fees, the group is instead asking for one-time contributions of as little as $10. Those who will use the road daily, such as farmers, ranchers and businesses, may consider contributing more for the convenience the new roadway will afford.
“Completing this road will benefit anyone living or driving in the northwest part of our county,” said Meade County Commission Chair Alan Aker. “Ranchers and residents have been formally petitioning for this road for more than 30 years. The VA hospital is formally on record stating they need the road to fulfill their mission of serving our military heroes. Rural emergency responders are also on record stating the lack of the road could cost a life. No other road we could build would do more for economic development in our county. It’s time to quit talking about it and move some dirt.”
The current route for northbound traffic from I-90 requires access through Sturgis, and adds several miles through town to the trip. The limited access causes significant traffic jams during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
“This is a significant financial commitment, but it’s worth it to the agricultural community to get this road built,” said Bob Wicka, a Meade County rancher with property near the north end of Fort Meade Way. “We made a personal commitment for this road, and now we’re asking for a lot of people to make a contribution to help fund it. This vital access to the main highway only makes sense.”
Construction of the roadway connecting both ends of Fort Meade Way and opening access to I-90 is estimated to begin in late November. The project is expected to be completed in summer 2016, and the road may be usable by July 25.
It wouldn’t take much to make “Fort Meade Way” a reality. The scenic byway would be a shortcut between I-90 and Highways 34 & 79 and would definitely help the snarled traffic situation during the Sturgis Rally in addition to benefiting ranchers and businesses northwest of town daily.