We’re in between South Dakota’s two seasons — winter and construction — but the orange cones will be out soon. The City of Sioux Falls is tackling a number of major street projects in 2022, some of which are multi-year endeavors in addition to multi-million dollar investments.
“The biggest piece for us is continuing to keep up with growth and manage existing infrastructure,” said Andy Berg, City Engineer. “We’ve got to improve or replace existing aging infrastructure in a timely fashion before it becomes a problem. Our program has a nice mix of expansion for growth and safety, and the maintenance and improvements to what we already have.”
The end goal is smoother roads, more efficient movement of traffic and safety. With very few exceptions, roads will remain open though in limited capacity. Projects that have already bid will start this spring. Some bids have yet to be let, such as improvements slated for Phillips Avenue downtown Sioux Falls. Depending on how numbers come back, there is a chance they could be delayed, Berg said. Several factors affect the bid prices — the volatility of the market, supply chain challenges, fuel prices and the general cost of materials that could be well over the allocated project budgets.
“As financing comes into clear form as each project bids, we will make decisions on what will be held back and what will move forward,” Berg said.
Here’s a look at some of the largest projects that will impact businesses and commuters for the rest of the year:
41st Street Diverging Diamond Interchange
Completion date: operational Fall 2023
Cost: $43.9 million
This two-year endeavor is by far the largest project this year and has the potential to impact travelers the most, Berg said. It includes road reconstruction and widening from Marion Road on the west to Shirley Avenue on the east and introduces a diverging diamond interchange (DDI) to the existing 41st Street and Interstate 29 exit, a new concept to Sioux Falls. The DDI is being done in partnership with the South Dakota Department of Transportation. In early 2023, the state’s first DDI is projected to open in Rapid City at LaCrosse Street and Interstate 90.
A DDI eliminates left turns by diverging traffic to the opposite side of the street as it crosses over the bridge. When completed, 41st Street westbound traffic will move from the right side (north) to the left side (south) while crossing the bridge and then move back to the right side (north). The DDI makes getting onto the interstate essentially “free left turns.” Eastbound drivers on 41st Street will do the opposite. Still confused? You can see an animation of how the interchange will work at siouxfalls.org/41st-ddi.
The intended schedule for 2022 is to start on the west side of the Interstate from Marion Road to Meadow Avenue and complete the reconstruction and widening to six lanes with a center median this year. In 2023, the project will move east, tackling the interchange, expanding the current bridge over the Interstate and continuing road reconstruction up to Shirley Avenue. The DDI should be fully operational by fall of 2023, Berg said.
Safety is a huge advantage for the conversion of the interchange. The DDI provides a safer path for pedestrians, which will run through the middle of the road instead of on the edges. Statistics have shown that left-turn crashes are reduced by 60% with this style of interchange, Berg said.
Traffic will be open in both directions throughout construction though it will be reduced to fewer lanes, Berg said. Drivers should stay alert as they drive through construction zones and be patient as there will be traffic delays, he said.
Minnesota Avenue, Russell Street to 2nd Street
Completion Date: Concrete surfacing November 2022, Landscaping spring 2023
Cost: $14.1 million (Phase I)
This project is the first of four phases of improvements to Minnesota Avenue, starting on the north at Russell Street to 18th Street. The 2022 phase is from Russell Street to 2nd Street.
Safety, underground utility improvements and visual enhancements along the roadway are key components of this project. The road will be completely reconstructed and several water main pipes and sanitary sewer pipes will be replaced. On-street parking will be eliminated and a median will be added to improve safety and traffic flow. New lighting, enhanced streetscaping, new bus stops and new sidewalks will vastly improve the route for pedestrians.
Traffic will remain open throughout the project though left turns will be prohibited.
49th Street Extension, Western Avenue to West Avenue
Completion Date: 2022, Phases I & II
Cost: $2.475 million
A new route moving traffic east to west and helping alleviate congestion on 41st Street is closer to becoming reality. W. 49th Street will eventually be extended from Western Avenue to Minnesota Avenue; previously the road ended at a “T” at Western Avenue. This project is being tackled in phases, with the first one extending the road east from Western Avenue to West Avenue.
It took several years for the City to acquire needed property to extend 49th Street from Western Avenue to Minnesota Avenue. Land along the new route includes undeveloped lots, some owned by the City and some by private developers, which will likely be built out with corridor construction.
“It all came together and we’re thrilled to have started construction,” Berg said.
In 2021, underground work was completed and the new road was graded. This year concrete pavement and landscaping will be completed. The next phase will extend 49th Street east to Grange Avenue and will likely be under construction in late 2022 or 2023. The road will eventually be built east to Minnesota Avenue over a period of years and in conjunction with planned improvements to the Minnesota Avenue/Interstate 229 interchange, done in partnership with the DOT.
Sycamore Avenue: 26th Street to 57th Street, 41st Street intersection
Completion Date: November 2022
Cost: $6 million
Sycamore Avenue is getting a facelift in 2022. In addition, the intersection of E. 41st Street and Sycamore Avenue will be widened. Medians will be added to provide safer turning movements and near 33rd Street the elevation will be graded to smooth out the road.
This street is a good example of maintaining an existing road by adding fresh asphalt — which is a faster upgrade and less expensive than a total reconstruction. It will look like a brand-new road, Berg said, and lengthen the life of the road. Overlays are a great example of preventative maintenance and putting a two-inch mat on top will give another 10 years of life on that street.
Completion Date: November 2022
Estimated Cost: $18 million, anticipated to bid this spring
Arrowhead Parkway will be reconstructed to accommodate future growth, expanding to four lanes. The project will stretch from approximately Willow Run Golf Course west to one-quarter mile east of Veterans Parkway.
The road will remain open except for periodic closures for installation of a box culvert. The intersection of Six Mile Road and Arrowhead Parkway will be reconfigured to make the turns at 90 degrees, which will make the intersection safer.
Completion Date: TBD
Estimated cost: May bid a portion of the project this spring
Businesses catering to both travelers and commerce are excited for the improvements expected to take place this year along Phillips Avenue between 8th and 10th streets. As of press time, the timeline and extent of this project is being reviewed due to cost factors and is subject to change.
The plan includes a full reconstruct of Phillips Avenue along 8th to 10th streets and includes a little bit of River Road toward 9th Street. Work will take place under the road but the bigger visual impact will be the improvements to the streetscape. Amenities will be added that bolster the pedestrian experience downtown and improve walkability, Berg said.
The Hotel on Phillips sits on the northeast corner of 9th Street and Phillips Avenue, and construction will take place on two sides of the property. Brenda Schmidt, President/CEO of Kelly Inns, said they are excited about the street and sidewalk project. Kelly Inns manages Hotel on Phillips, along with several other hotels across the city.
“The work will enhance our downtown and our hotel. The City continues to make wonderful improvements to our downtown and the overall city which results in making it a wonderful place to live, work and visit,” Schmidt said. “Our visitors tell us daily what a wonderful city we have.”
Schmidt gives credit to both City officials and the project engineering team, Stockwell Engineers, who met with them to explain the process and full details of the project and how it would impact Hotel on Phillips.
“We gave them our input and it was received very well. Sioux Falls continues to enhance its already very desirable city — to visit, live and work in, and we are proud to be a part of it all,” Schmidt said.
Construction has been the norm for a while at The First National Bank in Sioux Falls as their main site at the southeast corner of 9th Street and Phillips Avenue has been enhanced on both the exterior and interior of their building. Improvements from the City will also enhance that intersection, said Bob Baker, Director of Corporate Affairs and Executive Vice President at The First National Bank in Sioux Falls. The plan also expands walkability and safety for bicyclists with shared lanes along 9th Street.
“We are excited about the proposed improvements at 9th and Phillips and are looking forward to the new planters, lighting, decorative pavement and swings,” Baker said. “We are thrilled about reducing 9th Street to three lanes and expanding the sidewalk and seating space on the southside of Hotel on Phillips. This will be a wonderful connection point to the future greenway improvements on the river triangle property.”
Stay in the know about construction
Throughout the planning phases of many of its large projects, the City works to keep affected businesses and neighborhoods in the loop about how construction will impact them.
“Public outreach piece is one of the most important aspects to each and every project we do,” Berg said. “Our design team tries to over communicate and hear the concerns of adjacent landowners, commuters and businesses. We typically maintain business access during construction.”
There will be impacts to commuters and to businesses located along the construction areas, but the end game is to improve the situation for all parties involved, Berg said. The City’s website is a great resource to find updates on current projects, future projects and the status of bids. You can also sign up to receive email updates about specific projects. The information is prepared by consultants and City staff.