A scenic bypass proposal could boost Pine Ridge Reservation's economy

RAPID CITY, S.D, (KEVN) - A new road project proposal could be giving the Pine Ridge Reservation's economy a boost.

Map of the Crazy Horse Scenic Bypass route. (KLJ Engineering)

A proposal to make a 300-mile scenic bypass from Crazy Horse Memorial through the Pine Ridge Reservation is on the table.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe purchased land in the past known as Cactus Flat which will be partially used for the bypass route.

However, the director of the tribe's Department of Transportation David Kelly said the project should not cost too much because the plan is to use existing roads and just add signs to redirect tourists.

Kelly said the reservation hosts cultural events year-round which can attract spending from tourists and create more jobs for people.

"I see a lot of potential happening out of it. We do have a lot of Native artisans. We do have some beautiful, beautiful country in the area including portions of the Badlands. At one time there was talk of becoming the first tribal national park," Kelly said.

Kelly and his partner, Tonya Huber from KLJ engineering are traveling to 10 locations in nearby counties to gain people's support for the project.

"You know the tribe rarely gets out there and exposes themselves to the other counties. For them to be as receptive as they are right now and we're there trying to build a relationship because the ultimate goal is to raise our economy any way we can," Kelly said.

Kelly said this is an opportunity to also build a stronger bond with surrounding communities in the state.

"But in the long run I also see them benefiting, you know if we can pull the people off the interstate and bring them through our reservation then come back to small towns and communities. I think we build a relationship doing so," Kelly said.

If anyone would like to provide a letter of support to go with the application for the proposed Crazy Horse Scenic Byway they can contact either the OSTDOT at (605) 867-5376 or KLJ at 605-721-5553.
By partnering with KLJ Engineering, an application was submitted to the state but support from the community is needed.