Planning underway for Trump visit

Jason Ferguson
Iron Mountain Road can be a busy place during the summer. Throw in a July 3 celebration at Mount Rushmore National Memorial that will not only feature a fireworks show for the first time in 11 years, but also a visit from President Donald Trump and you have a recipe for a really busy road.
Because of that, a group of government entities have been busy preparing for the worst and hoping for the best when it comes to activity on Iron Mountain Road. Lt. Steve McMillin of the Custer County Sheriff’s Office, who has taken the lead in the planning, said the main objective that day will be to keep people safe and traffic moving.
While details are still being ironed out as to exactly how traffic will be kept moving along on the 17 miles of Iron Mountain Road — particularly later in the day when revelers pull off the road in hopes of seeing the fireworks show — McMillin said it has been requested that the size of vehicles allowed on the road from Wolf Camp to Hwy. 244 for the day can be limited. That request is still being considered by the state’s Department of Transporation.
“Regardless, we anticipate some traffic issues up there,” he said.
Anyone who plans to travel to Iron Mountain Road to find a place to watch the Rushmore fireworks needs to pull off the road in an area where they don’t impede traffic. Those who impede traffic will be told to move their vehicle. Those not near their vehicle or who do not move their vehicle will be towed, as tow trucks will be on standby to help keep traffic moving. Vehicles will likely be towed somewhere to a collection spot at Custer State Park.
Fireworks are another issue McMillin said law enforcement will likely have to deal with. Iron Moutain Road is within the Black Hills Fire Protection district, which means fireworks are prohibited. McMillin said there will be zero tolerance for people lighting fireworks on Iron Mountain Road.
He said the agencies involved plan to have their equipment in place July 2, with an operational period July 3 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
McMillin doesn’t anticipate any issues the morning of July 3, but around midday when people make their way to the road to find a spot for the fireworks, that’s when things can start to get interesting.
However, those who plan to watch the fireworks from Iron Mountain Road could be in for a surprise. McMillin said it is his understanding the fireworks will not be fired from the top of the memorial as they have in the past, but rather, from the base of the memorial, meaning the show may not be as visible for those who are not at Mount Rushmore.
Those who travel Iron Mountain Road July 3 should plan for slow traffic, McMillin said. There is also the possibility of checkpoints if certain vehicle restrictions are approved, and officials plan to have staging points to respond to potential issues more quickly. Officials will also have ATVs and UTVs on hand to assist in responding to calls.
Among the entities involved in the coordination and execution of the plan are the Custer County Sheriff’s Office, Custer County Emergency Management, South Dakota Highway Patrol, U.S. Forest Service, Custer State Park, National Park Service, Custer County Highway Department, Custer Ambulance and South Dakota Wildland Fire.

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