Meade County is located in western South Dakota, north and east of Rapid City. Meade County encompasses more than two million acres, making it the largest county in South Dakota in terms of land area. Although Meade County is 140 miles from its northeast corner to the southwest corner, it is sparsely populated. The total land area of Meade County is 3,482 square miles with an estimated population of 27,202 (2013). Sturgis is the largest city in the county with approximately 6,883 (2013) residents, with the remaining residents residing in smaller towns and rural areas throughout the rest of the County.
Meade County is located in the ranching area of northwestern South Dakota, and agriculture is the number one industry. In addition to the agriculture industry, the County hosts nearly a half million tourists each August for the world's largest motorcycle rally, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Meade County is also home to Ellsworth Air Force Base (AFB).
The transportation network in Meade County is utilized by residents, employees, and tourists with varying travel demands. One of the users of the Meade County transportation system is Ellsworth Air Force Base. The base operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but peaks during typical weekday morning and evening peak hours. In August, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally participants are the largest users of the transportation system. There is also a growing transload industry on the Interstate 90 (I-90) corridor that continues to generate an increasing amount of heavy truck traffic.
The County roadway network has historically been designed and constructed to serve rural and regional needs. Arterial and local roads were constructed in conjunction with low density development patterns resulting in a disjointed transportation network. Ongoing growth and development in the County is creating an increase in demands on the roadway network. The annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally further heightens travel demand in the southwest portion of the County and strains the capacity of the existing roadway network.
In 2007, South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) and Meade County partnered to develop the first Meade County Transportation Plan. Meade County continues to grow in population and the economy is becoming more diversified. As a result, traffic levels and patterns are anticipated to change and grow over time. SDDOT and Meade County recognize a need to reestablish baseline conditions, to update roadway categorization and prioritization, and to determine future transportation improvements that will enhance the economic and social well-being of the County. The update is necessary to identify the existing transportation needs to better serve the residents, workers and tourists within Meade County. The updated Plan will serve as a guide for the transportation system, providing a clearly defined future for the roadway system.
Link to the Study and Project Schedule