Thanks to the dedicated efforts of a local citizen with safety concerns for pedestrians crossing Mount Rushmore Road, the South Dakota Department of Transportation and the City of Rapid City are partnering to install flashing pedestrian beacons on two of Rapid City’s busiest thoroughfares.

This week, South Dakota DOT crews will be installing two flashing pedestrian beacons at Mount Rushmore Road near the intersections of Meade Street and St Anne Street, as well as a third flashing pedestrian beacon on Mountain View Road 400 feet south of the intersection with Canyon Lake Drive.  Flashing pedestrian beacons are yellow diamond signs indicating passenger crossings and flash when activated by the pedestrian.  There are several flashing pedestrian crossing signs in Rapid City, including ones on St. Joseph Street in front of the Pennington County Courthouse and near South Dakota Mines.

In November of 2023, Rapid City resident Tracy Witte sought the assistance of her independent support coordinator from Black Hills Works and wrote the City’s Disability Awareness and Accessibility Committee with safety concerns for herself and other Black Hills Works participants, her colleagues at Perkins and Colonial House Restaurants where she worked, as well as all community residents needing to cross at the busy intersections along Mount Rushmore Road.

Around the same time, City officials received similar concerns about Mountain View Road. South Dakota DOT has maintenance oversight of both roads.

“The bus stop closest to my work is located near this crosswalk and until recently has been the one I used to cross Mt. Rushmore Road,” Witte said in her November letter.  “However, I have had a couple close calls recently when cars do not stop while I am crossing.  I have seen my coworkers as well as people that I know who work at Colonial House having the same issue.

“I would like to request that the city add flashing lights to the crosswalk nearest my bus stop in order to help me and others get across safely.  I have seen these lights at other cross walks in town and they seem like they help.”

The DOT and the Rapid City Traffic Division conducted detailed reviews of the concerns raised.

“We are so grateful that Tracy brought this issue to our attention,  and to city and state officials working collaboratively on a solution,” said Tamie Hopp, chair of the City’s Disability Awareness and Accessibility Committee and who also serves as the Director of Philanthropy for the Black Hills Works Foundation.

“Safer pedestrian crossings, especially on busy Mt. Rushmore Road, will help citizens of all ages and abilities.  Her actions show that sometimes it just takes one person to speak up.”

Drivers are required to stop when the flashing pedestrian beacons are activated.  Failure to stop can result in violation of both state law and City code 10.36.010.  Drivers are advised to use caution at all pedestrian crossings marked by yellow diamond signs containing a walking pedestrian symbol.  Drivers are required to stop when pedestrians are approaching or crossing on these areas. The flashing beacons serve as an additional notice to drivers to stop.

“Rapid City Traffic Engineering reviews all citizen concerns received to determine how to address issues for the traveling public. In this instance, staff recognized the high use of the crosswalks and the safety benefits of a flashing pedestrian beacon at these locations,” said City Traffic Engineer Matthew Layman.  “With the help from the South Dakota DOT, these signs are scheduled to be installed and operational for use by the public. We appreciate all citizen feedback and Tracy’s efforts to bring this issue to the forefront.”

For Witte, she is very happy with the decision and says the flashing lights will mean a lot to her, her coworkers and the public.

“I was very happy at the decision to put up the lights,” said Witte. “I like the decision that was made.  It has been hard for me and others to cross because of the traffic. The lights will help out a lot.”

The crossings are near the Perkins Restaurant, Colonial House Restaurant and Floor & Home Carpet One/Simply Sleep Better facility on Mount Rushmore Road/Meade Street; Safeway and Auto Zone on Mount Rushmore Road/St. Anne Street; and near Monument Health Behavioral Health Center and the Avantara Mountain View facility on Mountain View Road.

Officials expect to have the new signs installed by the end of the week.  Drivers are advised to use caution with crews working in the area.