WATERTOWN, S.D. The Department of Transportation has some big plans to add roundabouts on highways in Northeastern South Dakota. That includes one near Watertown and two near Sisseton.
Placing a roundabout in Watertown at the intersection of Highway 81 and 20th Avenue SE is all about safety.
"If I recall, it's a 90% reduction in fatalities when a roundabout is put in, and it's a 76% reduction in injuries and an overall reduction of 35% of accidents, so as I say the numbers speak for themselves, it's good for travellers," Watertown City Councilmember Ward A Don Roby said.
The roundabouts will also add to the ease of travelling for everyone.
"A roundabout actually moves people more efficiently through an intersection. If you look at going through a roundabout, it's actually quicker and safer," SDDOT Division of Planning and Engineering Director Mike Behm said.
It's a way to get semis onto a safer route through Watertown.
"We tried to get trucks off of Highway 212 and it was almost impossible to cross highway 81 at that location, so trucks weren't taking it," Watertown Mayor Sarah Caron said.
The trucking community has voiced concerns about going through the roundabouts with trailers.
"This roundabout is designed to handle that. In fact, the DOT has actually run mock setups of this size of a roundabout with double trailers and they can navigate that fine," Roby said.
"Roundabouts are designed to not only accommodate car traffic but also truck traffic," Behm said. "It's an important part of South Dakota. We have a lot of trucking that goes through our cities both agriculturally and commercially."
The roundabouts are a sign of growth in the area.
"We're looking at something that can accommodate not only the traffic today but into the future as well," Behm said.
Watertown's intersection where the roundabout is going currently has temporary measures in place to help traffic by using a 4-way stop. The construction on the roundabout will start this spring with a completion date in the fall.
SDDOT officials say the two roundabouts near Sisseton will be along Highway 10. Construction on those won't start until the spring of 2019.