Buffalo Chip Toss-up

The owner of the Buffalo Chip Campground and arena in Sturgis, S.D., is reportedly thinking of moving the facility to an area with better access to the highway.

Owner Rod Woodruff said a decision by Meade County Commissioners last year to postpone looking into building a truck route around Sturgis has hurt his business, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year.

“Where I’m at now with the Buffalo Chip is I really can’t continue to grow much here, because I’m in a bad location,” he said. “I have to have a different location. I don’t have a road to get people here. My business has been choked.”

Woodruff referred to the bumper-to-bumper traffic when about 60,000 people descend on Sturgis each year for the annual biker rally. The Buffalo Chip website offers suggestions for alternative routes, and the best times to use them, but bikers are still going miles out of their way to get to Buffalo Chip, he said.

Commission Chairman Robert Mallow said officials were initially in favor of the bypass proposal, which would benefit more than just the campgrounds in the area, but chose not to pursue it for now because of budget concerns.

Todd Seaman, Department of Transportation regional engineer, said the county and campground owners would have to come up with about $12 million to build a two-lane truck route and it would take about five years just to complete the planning for it.

In the meantime, the DOT reportedly installs temporary traffic signals that can be manually adjusted to help ease the gridlock when needed.