Snow Job: SB 58 Expands State’s Duty to Plow Highways thru Small Towns

Drop that blade: Senate Bill 58 would increase the miles of state highway where it’s the Department of Transportation’s job to remove snow.

Current law (SDCL 31-4-5) lays out the obligations for maintaining portions of state highways that run through towns thus:

If any state trunk highway includes a connecting street within a municipality over twenty-five hundred population, the Department of Transportation shall maintain the street. However, the snow removal from the street is the duty of the first or second class municipality within whose boundaries the street lies.

SB 58 rewords those obligations:

If any state trunk highway includes a street within a municipality, the Department of Transportation shall maintain the street. However, any municipality with a population of over two thousand five hundred is responsible for the snow and ice removal from the street. If the street is located within a municipality with a population of two thousand five hundred or less, the department is responsible for the snow and ice removal from the street including any paved portion of the street’s right of way.

Right now, snow is all I think about on the road, so I look first at the plowing provision. Current law says towns with population over 500 (that’s 115 towns out of 310, by 2010 Census, from Bowdle and Dupree on up, but not Presho and Wilmot and smaller!) plow the snow. SB 58 moves the “locals plow it” threshold up to population over 2,500—that’s 88 more towns, up to Redfield, Flandreau, Chamberlain, and Sisseton, that get the guarantee that the state handles plowing on their strips of state highway.

Prime sponsor Senator Ryan Maher (R-28/Isabel, population 135) tells Dakota Free Press that the state has varying agreements with smaller towns on snow plowing. Senator Maher says SB 58 brings uniformity to road maintenance responsibilities.

SB 58 also expands the DOT’s general maintenance responsibilities for state highways from those strips in towns over 2,500 to all municipalities. That includes the 88 second-class munis in the snow deal and the 195 third-class munis.


One Response to Snow Job: SB 58 Expands State’s Duty to Plow Highways thru Small Towns

  1. Nick Nemec

    In my small town SD47 runs for a mile in the city limits. The city typically piles the snow in piles and removes them with dump trucks and a payloader. I’m not sure the local state highway department is equipped to do that unless they remove the salt/sand spreaders from their trucks whenever they need to move city snow and replace them if called to go out and plow the highways.