Mark Hanson

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Charles E. Lamberton


In the years 1965-1980; 59 branchline railroads with a combined mileage of 2,299.33 were abandoned. The heaviest wave of abandonments occurred in the years 1978-1980 with 33 branchlines with combined mileage of 1,592.5 being abandoned. As rail lines are abandoned, the traffic previously carried on them is shifted to the only alternative, the highway system. The traffic either is shipped directly by truck to its ultimate destination or it is shipped to a point where it can be loaded on a train. Either alternative means more traffic upon the highway system. However, the highway system may be ill-prepared to cope with the increase in traffic levels. A study commissioned by the U.S. Senate estimated that in 1970 it would have required 625 million dollars to alleviate rural road deficiencies in South Dakota. Since that time inflationary pressures have pushed construction costs up 190 percent in the period 1970-1980 and the average maintenance costs per mile rose from $1,000 per mile to $2,000 per mile in 1978. During the same period revenues generally have not kept up with the increases in costs. State funds available for state roads increased 102 percent from 1970 to 1980, federal funds available for state roads increased 22 percent in that period, and the increase of the two combined was 103 percent. The principal source of revenues used to construct and maintain the highway system is the motor fuel tax. Revenues from this source increased from $23.3 million in 1970 to $42.5 million dollars in 1980. The second major source of funding is the motor vehicle registration fee. The revenue from this source increased from 8.5 million in 1970 to $14.5 million in 1980, a 59 percent increase. The major problem with depending upon these sources of revenues is that they are not based upon the costs of maintaining and constructing the highway system. Rather, the fees are set through the political process. With the economy burdened by stagflation, legislators are reluctant to pass measures that would raise the revenues to the levels of costs. In addition, outside factors play an important role in determining the amount of revenue raised by the fuel tax and the vehicle registration fee. The objectives of this study are as follows: (1) To determine what factors have significant impacts upon the level of pavement condition of South Dakota primary arterial roads and to make estimates as to the degree of these impacts. (2) To determine what factors have significant impacts upon the level of surface maintenance expenditures of South Dakota primary arterial roads and to make estimates as to the degree of these impacts. As the process of railroad abandonment occurs there will be more traffic diverted to the state’s primary arterial system which is the work horse of the state’s highway network. Knowledge of what factors impact levels of pavement condition and maintenance expenditures and estimates of the degree of such impacts could be used as a tool in forecasting the possible consequences of various policy decisions upon the state’s highway network. By knowing the possible consequences beforehand, the planning process will be facilitated and better planning decisions can be made.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Pavements -- South Dakota
Roads -- South Dakota -- Maintenance and repair -- Costs



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University