Economic Benefits of Transportation,  Economic Expansion,  South Dakota

Welcome Center/Port of Entry

The South Dakota Department of Transportation improved the customer experience and addressed commercial vehicle safety issues through the reconstruction of the Valley Springs rest area.

The Rest Area Revitalization Plan in South Dakota prioritized statewide needs. The report outlined the need for significant immediate repairs and required Americans with Disability Act upgrades at the Valley Springs rest area. The facility also experienced minimal space in the port of entry administrative building, no indoor inspection facilities, and a lack of automated truck screening systems.

Reconstruction of the welcome center, port of entry, as well as a new commercial vehicle inspection building began in October 2018. The welcome center was replaced with modern amenities and a large display area for the Department of Tourism to welcome travelers to the state.

By working with the Minnesota DOT, the South Dakota Department of Transportation installed screening systems east of the port in Minnesota. These systems check trucks’ brakes, tires, registration, fuel tax status, and weighs the moving vehicle in advance of the port. The ability to pre-screen commercial vehicles allows 95 percent of the trucks in good standing to by-pass the port. The time savings equates to approximately $2.50/minute based on freight delays and staff support. The port of entry improvements align with the SDDOT’s Transportation System Management & Operations Plan and the welcome center improvements provide excellent rest area services to the traveling public.

Other improvements in the $14.5M project include an expanded and upgraded sanitary sewer, picnic shelters, video security, additional truck and car parking, port scale, and pollinator garden plots. The project retained the iconic concrete tipi built with the original rest area. The revitalized facility opened in January 2020.

The project required strong coordination between several South Dakota agencies (Departments of Transportation, Public Safety, Tourism, and State Engineers Office) as well a collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

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