SPEARFISH — Hikers, bikers, horseback riders, picnickers, and anyone else wanting to access Lookout Mountain will have a new parking lot and gravel path to use soon.
The Spearfish City Council recently approved the low bid of $79,871 to Donovan Construction for a trailhead project, set to begin mid-August, which will extend Nevada Street with a small parking lot and gravel path from the parking lot to the access tunnel under Interstate 90 used to get to Lookout Mountain. The project will also include drainage improvements around the tunnel.
Spearfish Public Works Administrator Cheryl Johnson said that the parking lot would have 12 parking stalls and one designated handicap accessible parking stall. This project has been in the works for a few years, and Johnson said that the trigger came from the Department of Transportation. According to the DOT’s regulations, parking is not allowed on interstate entrance and exit ramps, so the previous use of Exit 12 as a starting point for people wanting to access Lookout Mountain has been corrected through various signage and fencing projects to keep pedestrians from accessing the mountain there. Parking at that location created issues for vehicles turning onto Jackson Boulevard from the exit ramp, especially semis and large trucks, and now that people have learned not to access Lookout Mountain from Exit 12, there needs to be a designated place for them to park to access it, Johnson said.
“In the design, we accommodate the plan for a future kiosk, but that’s not part of this project,” she added, explaining that there is a trails group working to mark the trails on the mountain, and that conversations about future projects to include possible benches, picnic area, water fountain, kiosk, bicycle rack, and additional amenities have happened and are part of future city capital budget wish lists.
Because Lookout Mountain is also utilized for horseback riding and grazing, the parking lot and path design allows for unloading trailers, as well, for livestock to be moved through the tunnel.
“That was pretty important that we be able to still allow that animal access up onto the mountain,” Johnson said.
The project uses the city’s existing right-of-way on Nevada Street, so no additional property was necessary to acquire, and Johnson said that for the majority of the project, Lookout Mountain users would still have access to the tunnel. There may be a three-day window when it is blocked off to allow the contractor to grade around it, and signage will be placed to alert people to this timeline once it occurs. During this time, people can still access the mountain through the Sandstone Hills addition. Otherwise, the contractors will accommodate pedestrian access through the tunnel off of Nevada Street, Johnson said, and people will be able to park at the other end of the street out of the construction zone.
Johnson said that some scraping work could start as early as Rally week, with work starting mid-August at the latest. The project has a mid-November completion date.
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