Entries Tagged 'Public Works' ↓

Start your engines

As of 11 AM today, it seems the city’s maintainers (plows) are all still parked. I did see a sander/plow out on Cliff Avenue though. Those are the bigger dump trucks to the left of the picture. I guess our new Street Manager is a REAL conservative, saving us $$$ 🙁

Click to Enlarge

The Pothole Math (H/T – CHB)

A foot soldier decided to do some ‘Propaganda Math’ when it comes to potholes, and it is interesting, this is what they sent me;

Paul TenHaken FB page as of Monday March 18, 7:34am:

“With the flooding beginning to subside, we are now dealing with the increased washout on roads that have already experience a very tough winter. As a result, we are taking an all hands on deck approach.”

◾️Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Public Works will have a minimum of six crews addressing potholes.

◾️Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to midnight and from midnight to 8 a.m.: Public Works will have a minimum of one crew addressing potholes in high-traffic volume areas.

◾️Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Public Works will have a minimum of three crews addressing potholes.”

City Council Meeting Tuesday March 19/19 Mark Cotter testimony:

We are running 6 crews M-F, 3 crews on the weekend, one at night.” 

City of Sioux Falls Facebook page as of Friday 3/22/19, 10:42am (this information was time stamped as being posted 16 hrs. prior to 3/22/19 10:42am. . . . so these stats apparently reflect pothole repair progress M-Th, March 3/18 – March 3/21 approximately 6pm):

We have cleared 413 potholes this week so far. We have four crews out every day 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and one crew out 4 p.m. to midnight. We will have four crews out this weekend as well working from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.”

In terms of quantifying the pothole repair process, one variable missing in these three repair crew schedule announcements is the number of men on each crew. And, there are some inconsistencies in the specifics:

a) Mayor TenHaken’s info from Monday 3/18, claims SIX daytime crews M-F, TWO night crews M-F, THREE daytime crews Sat/Sun.

b) Cotter info from Tuesday 3/19, claims SIX daytime crews M-F, ONE [not two] night crew M-F, THREE daytime crews Sat/Sun.

c) siouxfalls.org from Friday 3/22, claims FOUR [not six] daytime crews M-F, ONE [not two] night crew M-F, FOUR [not three] daytime crews Sat/Sun.

Ok. All that now having been itemized, Public Works is allowed to modify the pothole repair crew assignments over time, or as conditions change/improve, or as impending flood priorities may change. These figures do claim that an additional crew has been added Sat/Sun over first two reports, so that’s a positive. Therefore, these inconsistent reports may be a moot point. However, in attempting to quantify the rate of progress the siouxfalls.org data shares, I’m uncertain what the most accurate math would be to quantify the progress in terms of potholes fixed per day or per hour. One equation I came up with from the siouxfalls.org 3/22 stats is:

A) [4] daytime crews x 8 hrs/day = 32 crew hrs/day

B) [1] evening crew x 8 hrs/day = 8 crew hrs/day

C) Subtotal: 32 + 8                    = 40 crew hrs/day

D) [4] days {M-Th} x 40 crew hrs/day = 160 total crew hours work for Mon-Thurs.

E) 412 repaired potholes ÷ 160 crew hrs = 2.575 potholes fixed per crew hour? If legit, seems like slow progress.

DL: Either this means pothole stop sites (and not actual potholes) or there is a heckuva a lot of miscommunication going on.

Major Fail – City of Sioux Falls Engineering and Public Works

From a SouthDaCola foot soldier;

I 229/26th Street/ Southeastern Drive Reconstruction Project


In order to begin this massive road and bridge project, Rotary-Norlin Park needed to be relocated from the east side of the river to the west side.

The majority of this work took place in 2018.

In conjunction with the Rotary Park Project the City needed to do underground work on the utilities (storm sewer, sewer, and water).  The residents who live in the Riverdale subdivision (which is just across I 229 from Rotary Park)  saw that utility work was being done last summer/fall in Riverdale Park.  This is where the new utility lines were being connected to the existing lines.

At approximately the same time the work was being done in Riverdale Park, residents in Riverdale subdivision began to experience both low water pressure and sewer backups in their homes.  In some homes, sewer backups have happened multiple times since last summer/fall.

Today, we finally may have an answer as to why this is happening.

The City probably should have invested in a lift station when the work was done last year.


After reviewing the documents related to the I 229/26th Street/Southeastern Drive Project on siouxfalls.org, it appears the elevation needed to construct the overpass for the BNSF railroad will also be a factor in this major blunder of not building a lift station.

Phase I of this Project is set to begin in a few days. Should the project be allowed to go forward before resolving the issue of the lift station? Good question.

This is what a compromise looks like for Elmwood Avenue

Here is an overview of where we started on the street vacation and where we ended up.

This is what it looked like before the houses were removed;

This was what Lifescape wanted to do;

This is a proposal by a resident in the neighborhood who used to work as an urban planner. This was proposed last Fall when the first attempt at the street vacation was proposed. Notice the only difference between his proposal and the city’s new compromise is he proposed keeping a two way street instead of one-way.

City’s compromise proposal;


Important meeting Wednesday about 26th street interchange

I-229 Interchange Meeting

Interstate 229 as it cuts through the center of Sioux Falls, SD is being readied for a some more changes. Cliff and Minnesota exits are going to be updated by 2024. The latest versions of the changes are laid out in this meeting held at Lincoln High School on January 23, 2019.

Slab on Grade Baby!

In one of the more humorous moments during the Q & A portion of the Sioux Falls City Council informational meeting about drainage issues in Sioux Falls, the city official stated that the best way to avoid water in your basement when building a new home was to go ‘slab on grade’. In other words ‘NO BASEMENT’. That’s why these guys have engineering degrees I suppose, to give out riveting solutions to difficult problems.

What is the ‘Real Cost’ of the proposed thermal chiller not working at the City Admin building?

Fast Forward to 47:00

Notice Director Cotter talking about how the system is malfunctioning because of the high level of minerals in the water . . . then he says that the water then has to be discharged in the the sanitary sewer (this was going on during the summer and not now).

How does this tie to the capacity of the current water reclamation plant?

Rough estimates from doing engineering research is that if this system is running at full capacity during the summer (pumping cool water) and not simply discharging the warm water back into the well, as intended (but back into the sanitary sewer) it would be approximately discharging 300 gallons a minute, which equates to about 14,000 homes in Sioux Falls a day.

I wonder why we need a new sewer plant?


Streets Director Galynn Huber to Retire in January

I guess I missed this newsflash that was announced on Monday;

The end of January, Huber retires from years of directing the city’s white warfare.

He’s seen many changes in snow fighting technology in his time – such as those snow gates everybody appreciates – and expects some exciting things after he’s retired.

Like I said with Mike Cooper, I don’t think Huber was ‘forced’ into retirement, it was just his time. Huber has done a good job, though I think he fought the implementation of snowgates at first, until, I think, to his credit, Huether jumped in and told him to make them work.

While snowgates DO work, they only work when properly used. And if I could find one fault with the job Huber has done, it is that he isn’t making snowplow operators (contracted and public employees) follow ORDINANCE mandated by the VOTERS by having them use them when the snow is manageable to do so. Hopefully the new street director can figure this out.

I would have to agree with councilor Stehly that a large number on the back of all snowgate plows with a number to call would alleviate the problem really fast. If the street department got 10 or more calls about plow #18 not using the gates properly, they would know who to talk to and put through retraining or discipline. This isn’t rocket science, it’s just snow removal folks. And as I have reminded citizens, it’s THE LAW written into the city charter.

How much did the public know about the $260 million dollar sewer plant expansion?

There has been a common theme from City Hall, Public Works and a majority of city councilors; The sewer plant expansion was being planned for a long time. Their evidence? The 5-Year Capital Plan.

While it is true that the studies were listed in the Capital Plan, unless you were a crystal ball reader, a genie or Gaia himself, as a citizen you would have NO idea what the study meant, what pricetag would be attached to the expansion, or when it would be started and completed.

Here are the graphics I created with the specific pages in the Capital Plans going back to 2015 with references to the Expansion (studies):

Click on each image to enlarge and read clearly;

Besides the fact that the information is conveniently buried in the center of the capital plan (which is well over 200 pages) There isn’t a lot of specifics.

In the 2015-2019 plan there is only reference to a half-million dollar study (Which would have been implemented in 2014). In 2016-2020, there is the exact same reference. In the 2017-2021 plan there is NO reference to the study. In the 2018-2022 plan, the study reappears and they FINALLY admit in the document that the sewer plant will have to be expanded (that was in 2017) with NO numbers on an estimated cost and finally in the 2019-2023 plan (prepared this summer) there is an actual plan for the expansion with a price tag of $160 Million (approximately). I find it interesting that in the 2017 plan (prepared in the summer of 2016) there was ZERO mention of a study OR expansion. NONE.

But let’s look at some public meeting video evidence;

The video below is the 5-year Capital Plan/Budget hearing from August 19, 2014. (FF: 1:09:30) during the Sewer presentation NO mention of expanding sewer plant except these words from director Cotter, “Key Projects” coming.

The video below is the 5-year Capital Plan/Budget hearing from August 18, 2015. (FF: 56:00) during the Sewer presentation there is a brief mention of a ‘System Master Plan’.

The video below is the 5-year Capital Plan/Budget hearing from August 16, 2016. (FF: 2:00:00) during the Sewer presentation there was NO mention of expanding the sewer plant. 

The video below is the 5-year Capital Plan/Budget hearing from August 8, 2017. (FF: 2:22:30) during the Sewer presentation there was mention of the life of the sewer plant running out, as the master plan identified, but nothing was said of when expansion would occur.

I even went back to the 2013 budget hearing. The video below is the Capital Plan hearing from August 13, 2013. (FF: 1:33:00) during the Sewer presentation there was a mention of expanding the sewer plant, and Cotter even said “It will be our largest investment” (gave no dollar amount) then said “We have captured the land for it and we will keep our eye on it.” but did not give a single clue of when that would happen only saying, “In the future.”

I also listened to the 2012 budget hearing, (FF: 2:07:40). No mention of sewer plant expansion, just arterial improvements.

While I appreciate being corrected that Public Works has been working on this for awhile, as we have seen in the videos above, the public certainly wasn’t aware of it. No press releases, no press conferences and certainly no final price tag or date of starting the project, or date of completion, only off hand remarks that it was being planned and coming in the future. Is that ‘COMPLETE’ transparency, integrity and honesty?

Obscure pages in the middle of a 200 page report and off-hand remarks in a once a year budget hearing held in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon doesn’t cut the mustard with me when it comes to open and transparent government. If this project was being planned (at least 4 years ago) why weren’t we made aware of it before building the Denty, the indoor pool, parking ramp or administration building? As Cotter said in 2013 “It will be our largest investment (in the sewer system)”. OK. Thanks for the heads up. But will it be bigger than the Events Center? Will it be bigger than the county jail? Will it be bigger than the School District expansion? Just how ‘large’ is this investment? We never even got an inkling until a few months ago, and those numbers weren’t even accurate.

I guess there is two schools of thought when it comes to government openness in city government. Mine is simple, open all the books all of time. City Hall’s philosophy is, if you want open government, you are going to have to look for it, and even than you will only get clues and hints.