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Published July 22 2012

South Dakota dealing with North Dakota oil boom traffic problems

RAPID CITY, S.D. — State officials are stepping in to help northwestern South Dakota solve problems caused by the surge of people headed to the North Dakota oil patch.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley sent two Rapid City-based Department of Criminal Investigation agents to help law enforcement in Butte, Harding and Perkins counties manage the increase in criminal cases.

“Given the continued increase of calls for service, we have continued to utilize resources from the Rapid City office,” Jackley told the Rapid City Journal.

Jackley said moving the agents north has put a strain on the Rapid City office, so he's looking to pull in agents from other offices in South Dakota.

“You basically have a town being created in the oil field area. They spread out and are using resources,” Jackley said.

If necessary, he plans to ask the South Dakota State Legislature to approve a full-time agent, which will likely cost between $80,000 and $90,000 annually.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol also has discussed putting troopers from other parts of the state in northwestern South Dakota and adding another, but for now everyone is staying put, said Capt. Kevin Karley, commander of the highway patrol's District 3, which covers Butte, Harding and Perkins counties.

The agency also is reaching out to its North Dakota counterpart and applying the lessons learned during the oil boom to South Dakota.

The heavy truck traffic flowing through South Dakota to the North Dakota oil patch has made the South Dakota Department of Transportation pay attention. A three-part traffic study on U.S. Highway 85 and South Dakota highways 79, 73 and 20 is under way to see just how much traffic is in the area, said Mike Carlson, area engineer for the department of transportation.

“We just want to see what kind of increases have occurred up in that area,” Carlson said.

The traffic study should be finished sometime in September.