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Crow Creek Tribe Wants Traffic Circle at Fort Thompson

Hoka hey!—it’s a good day to drive around in circles in Fort Thompson…

The South Dakota Department of Transportation plans to upgrade State Highways 47 and 249 in Fort Thompson and the Highway 249/34 intersection just northeast of town.

South Dakota Department of Transportation, map of proposed upgrades for Highway 47/249/34 in and around Fort Thompson, from presentation prepared for June 14, 2023, public meeting; retrieved 2023.06.01.
South Dakota Department of Transportation, map of proposed upgrades for Highway 47/249/34 in and around Fort Thompson, from presentation prepared for June 14, 2023, public meeting, retrieved 2023.06.01.

DOT says the area was graded in the 1960s and got its last surface improvements in 2000. The proposed upgrades include new pedestrian paths and crossings, new storm sewer, better lighting, a new bridge down near the Big Bend Dam and culverts…and maybe a roundabout at the 47/249 intersection between the Lode Star Casino and Dakotamart:

SDDOT, roundabout intersection alternative, retrieved 2023.06.01.
SDDOT, roundabout intersection alternative, retrieved 2023.06.01.

Traffic circle—clap clap clap-clap-clap! Traffic circle…!

According to DOT’s slides, the Crow Creek Tribal Council itself approved a formal resolution to request this roundabout due to safety concerns. Our Lakota brothers and sisters know a thing or two about the Sacred Hoop. DOT notes what readers of this blog know: turning intersections into sacred hoops (replacing crosses with circles—religious symbological subtext?) makes driving and walking much safer!

SDDOT slides, retrieved 2023.06.01.
SDDOT slides, retrieved 2023.06.01.

Residents who would like to comment on this plan may do so at the June 14 meeting, 6:45–7:45 p.m. Central, at the new Tokata Youth Center, 113 East Old Lodge St., Fort Thompson, about a half mile north of the possible 47/249 traffic circle. If you can’t get around to the meeting, DOT’s road design engineering supervisor Mark Malone will happily take your comments online or by mail:

SDDOT slides, retrieved 2023.06.01.
SDDOT slides, retrieved 2023.06.01.

If Fort Thompson can get a roundabout, the next one should go in at the Pizza Ranch corner, Highway 81/34, on the west side of Madison. Hoka hey!


  1. Arlo Blundt 2023-06-01 20:01

    Roundabouts are not only safer, they keep traffic moving, ending the stop and go, look both ways, stuff we go through now. People will get the hang of them…they do require clear signage.

  2. Nick Nemec 2023-06-01 20:36

    I’m well familiar with this intersection, it is very busy and currently a four way stop. A roundabout will make it much safer.

  3. grudznick 2023-06-01 21:05

    No. It’s less safe for pedestrians, who shouldn’t be walking out there on the highway anyway. Have you ever tried to cross at one of these donuts-of-death? They plant tall flowers in the middle, the beauty and smell is distracting to both ambulators, drivers, navigators and passengers. The confusing nature of the death-donuts has caused many an old fellow like grudznick to have to scamper faster than I should, and then the Prius drivers slow down suddenly and the F-150 behind them plows into the back of them and wrecks their Al Gore bumper sticker.

    They are bad, they are very bad.

  4. larry kurtz 2023-06-01 21:29

    I know this intersection all too well and have seen grud’s car at the casino.

  5. larry kurtz 2023-06-01 21:47

    2020 Buick Encore with the Brad Estes for Mayor bumper sticker right?

  6. grudznick 2023-06-01 22:00

    Lar, do you remember that night we closed down the Lode Star after that concert, what was it…some hair band you insisted we attend…and we didn’t have an extra ticket for Bob. We staggered across that dangerous, but mostly vacant intersection to the Lode Star Motel where our good friend Bob was grumpily eating gas station hot dogs and drinking Bud Light. You and Bob had to snuggle in the one double bed, because ol’ grudznick was having digestive problems and neither of you wanted to crawl into mine. Golly those were the days.

  7. Nick Nemec 2023-06-02 06:54

    Mr. Kurtz are you sure Mr. grudznick’s car was parked at the Lode Star and not actually headed east 5.8 miles to the Prairie Chicken Gentleman’s Club at Lee’s Corner?

  8. larry kurtz 2023-06-02 07:32

    Holy smokes, Mr. Nemec! I had no idea that was there! It’s unlikely he was there since grud can’t even see his nether parts without a mirror.

  9. Tom 2023-06-02 08:18

    we don’t need no European/communist turnabouts in this here country!

  10. John 2023-06-02 09:04

    grundz, Tom: consider that maybe you are too old to safely drive.
    Generations of safety data show that roundabouts are far safer than conventional stop-and-go signs and traffic lights.
    Bend, OR has about 50+, “communist” Worthington, MN has several (practically within eyesight from Sioux Falls).

  11. Tom 2023-06-02 09:09

    I know’d dat! I lived in Europe for 30+ years. One highway in Belgium had 7 new turnabouts in a row in anticipation of future growth…and don’t get me started on the metic system and international road signs the great unwashed in this country can’t seem to grasp! To the barricades!

  12. grudznick 2023-06-02 09:27

    Mr. John, that is why people usually drive grudznick to places like the Prairie Chicken, or the Belle Starr.

  13. Arlo Blundt 2023-06-02 20:51

    Twenty years ago you only found roundabouts in New England….Massachusetts had a lot of them. I think they are a sign of progress. I admit I had trouble adapting at first but learned to slow down a bit and follow the signs. I think the problem in South Dakota is that most of us are not aware of the number of the highway we are on, much less the number of the highway we are turning onto.

  14. P. Aitch 2023-06-15 10:49

    *This Just In … Supreme Court Upholds Native American Adoption Law
    At issue in the case was whether a law aimed at keeping Native American adoptees within tribes is constitutional. – NYTIMES

  15. e platypus onion 2023-06-15 11:16

    Sorry P. Aitch, I didn’t see your comment before I posted mine. Good news, what?

  16. P. Aitch 2023-06-15 14:37

    Great news, EPOnion. There’s plenty of Russian and Chinese orphans for those wanting to share their love.
    Native culture is very precious in South Dakota, and it gets kicked to the curb way to often by white people who need to feel superior to something. Why they have that need is a textbook in itself.

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