August 19, 2019

Road work means better welcoming - Daily Leader Extra : Editorials

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Road work means better welcoming

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Posted: Tuesday, August 6, 2019 3:58 pm

Dakota State University students will start rolling into Madison in the next few weeks, and the reconstruction of Washington Avenue is not the best first impression of our community.

While Madison can be accessed from all directions, the vast majority of people entering the city come on Highway 34 to the intersection of the highway and S. Washington Ave. Two lanes of traffic on the normally four-lane street continues about 2,000 feet before being blocked completely.

So the only paved roads into the city from the southeast are north on 457th Avenue (the "firecracker road"), or west on S.E. 10th Street, then north on Egan Avenue. We've already seen increased traffic on both those roads, and that's before roughly 1,500 on-campus students from 64 of 66 South Dakota counties and all 50 states arrive.

The Prairie Village Steam Threshing Jamboree and its thousands of visitors will also arrive in the next few weeks. Washington Ave. will continue to be closed at least one month into the fall semester.

Road construction might seem like a symbol of progress to some people, but others will be annoyed by the inconvenience. So we'll need to go the extra mile (pun intended) to help make students, their parents and other visitors welcome.

First, we encourage as much signage as we can on alternative routes. The construction contractor has certain responsibilities for signs, but businesses should add their own signs to the mix.

Dakota State should do the same and we expect the administration already has a plan in place. A separate construction project to rebuild N.E. Sixth Street is currently restricting access to the south edge of campus and blocking off dozens of parking places, but we expect that to be completed before school starts.

An occasional sign of "welcome students" would be a nice touch from both businesses and residences. And personal assistance with a smile for those asking directions might be the best gesture of all.

The next few months will be important to the city, and we hope to make the best impression we can under the circumstances.

-- Jon M. Hunter