Why the Highway 100 project is unnecessary

This is a Guest Post from an anonymous Sioux Falls resident;

With the COVID-19 situation changing and spreading rapidly, fighting this pandemic should be our number one priority. It’s hard to predict what tomorrow may bring but with Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna announcing positive results from their testing of the COVID-19 vaccine, this means we are one step closer to potentially providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough.

With that being said, why is this decades old project being pushed through by Noem and TenHaken at this time? With all of the outstanding road projects and infrastructure work needed to be done statewide, I wish the media would investigate and expose this for what it is. We need total transparency regarding this outdated and unnecessary project for all South Dakota citizens to be aware of.

If you go to www.openstreetmap.org and zoom in you can clearly see the path of the southern portion of this project.

“We are grateful to the Governor’s Office and the South Dakota Department of Transportation for making this critical investment in roadway infrastructure,” said Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken. “The southern expansion of Veterans Parkway has been discussed for decades and when completed, it will be transformational for our region. This multiyear expansion roadway expansion will not only improve traffic flow and better connect Sioux Falls neighboring communities but also spark significant economic development along with the project.”

The remaining 8.5 miles of Highway 100, with today’s cost indexed forward to 2023 dollars, is estimated at $208.9 million, of which the South Dakota Department of Transportation will fund the six-lane corridor that is estimated at $176 million. The City of Sioux Falls will fund the arterial streets that connect to the corridor, which is estimated at $32.9 million.

Economic Development

Would economic development be enhanced or hindered with this project? Highway 100 will not improve traffic flow or create any new connections to Sioux Falls neighboring communities. With the crossing of nine major street arteries with traffic lights, this project is not a bypass like I229. “A bypass is a road or highway that avoids or “bypasses” a built-up area, town, or village, to let through traffic flow without interference from local traffic, to reduce congestion in the built-up area, and to improve road safety”. The land set aside for this corridor has hampered growth in the Lincoln County area because developers have to continually work around the project path. One has to question the zoning by the city of Sioux Falls and Lincoln County for allowing new residential and commercial development to be built so close to the proposed project that was first planned over 25 years ago (1993).

Have adequate buffer zones been established at or adjoining commercial-residential district boundaries to mitigate potential frictions between uses or characteristics of use? Have district regulations been provided for transitional uses, yards, heights, off-street parking, lighting, signs, buffering, or screening? Trying to sell your home with a six-lane highway in your backyard could be a challenge as well as developing new neighborhoods that are adjacent to this highway.

The completed section from I90 to 57th street has traffic lights or stop signs at Rice street, East 10 street (Highway 42), 18th, 26th, 41st, and 57th. There are additional access points at Madison, Maple, 33rd, and others. Lincoln County already has excellent east/west through streets and corridors that connect to Highway 11 using 57th, 69th, 85th, and county 106. The existing north/south through streets include Louise, Minnesota (115), Cliff and of course Highway 11. There is also the Western, Southeastern, and Sycamore corridors which run south all the way to US Highway 18 and beyond. The 85th street interchange at I29 is planned to start in 2021.

This shortsighted plan needs to be abandoned with the rapid expansion of Sioux Falls, Harrisburg and Lincoln County. We need a plan for the next 50 years based off of the growth in the area in the previous 25 years. The 2020 Sioux Falls population is projected to reach 190,519 with the Sioux Falls Metro Area population at 275,917. By 2035, the population of Sioux Falls is projected to reach 233,000 with the Sioux Falls Metro Area population projected to reach 346,184.

Sioux Falls already has great connections to Tea, Harrisburg, Worthing, Lennox and Canton with our existing highways. The proposed route should be sold back to developers and a more cost-effective plan using county Highway 106 implemented as the east-west route from Highway 11 to I29. Highway 11 can be widened from 57th through Shindler to 106 because there is adequate room for expansion just as Highway 115 was recently widened from 85th to Highway 110. Any homeowner affected by this route could be compensated or bought out at current values. Thinking ahead using today’s construction costs, we could further enhance Highway 11 down to Highway 116 (additional 5 miles) which runs west to an overpass and exits on I29.

Spending Taxpayer Dollars Wisely

Money set aside for remaining 8.5 miles of the Highway 100 southern expansion ($208.9 million est.) would be better spent on improving the existing connections in Lincoln County. As an example: the reconstruction of 3.3 miles of Highway 115 (Minnesota Ave.) from just south of the 85th Street intersection to 0.3 miles south of the Lincoln County Highway 110 intersection was $18.3 million (18.3 million / 3.3 miles = 5.54 million per mile). If constructing a new 6-lane Interstate highway is about $7 million per mile in rural areas and about $11 million per mile in urban areas why is the southern portion of this project costing $24.5 million per mile (208.9 million / 8.5 miles = 24.5 million)? Also, what is the source of these funds and what is the breakdown from each source? A full disclosure needs to be made available for all South Dakota taxpayers before this project is started.

Planning Ahead

On June 29, 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 which enabled the I229 project to be built that was finished in 1962. If we had waited 27 years to start the I229 project it probably would not have been completed. The impact on transportation and economic development in the Sioux Falls area would have been substantial.

Wetland Mitigation

The SD DOT requires avoidance of all wetland impacts or, where avoidance is not practicable, minimization to the greatest extent practicable. Special emphasis is placed on avoiding impacts to high-quality wetlands including those wetlands with known or potential endangered species support functions.

When the objectives of a transportation project cannot be met without adverse impacts to wetlands, wetland mitigation involves the preparation of a wetland mitigation plan detailing how lost wetland functions will be compensated.

Subsequently, wetland mitigation plans must be submitted to one or more of the regulatory agencies for their review and approval prior to a permit being issued.

The existing streets, county roads and corridors from 57th street, south to US Highway 18 and west to I29 are already reserved for use by motorized vehicles. This relatively flat area can be developed with well thought out planning and zoning. The impact on current wetlands would be lessened because the existing right of ways are already in place.

Conclusion

Allowing outdated projects based on what a few legislators want which benefits consultants, politicians, and construction companies at the expense of current and future neighborhoods should not occur. The funds set aside for the southern portion of the Highway 100 project would be better spent on a long-range plan that is implemented in a timely manner for the City of Sioux Falls and Lincoln County. This boondoggle is nothing more than someone’s pet project which has nothing to do with honoring our veterans, improving traffic flow or better connecting Sioux Falls neighboring communities in Lincoln County.

*Editor’s Note; I would like to thank the DaCola reader for sending me this very informative piece.



15 comments ↓

#1 D@ily Spin on 11.19.20 at 8:03 am

Any transportation improvement to the east and southeast is a good thing. Sioux Falls metro is growing most here. Much of the area is outside city limits thus not subject to corruption and ignorant unenforceable ordinances. Finishing 100 will increase land valuation and benefit two county revenue. If there’s a problem, it’s that the project is taking to long.

#2 rufusx on 11.19.20 at 8:32 am

Re: “South Dakota Department of Transportation will fund”

To be clear – 80% ofthe SD DOT funds comefrom Federal Fuel Taxes- NOT form SDn’s. You have to always, always, always, remember, SD is a WELFARE STATE and VERY dependent on federal funding.

In addition, I will argue that the inclusion of the of the bike/pedestrian trail in this plan pretty much funds the whole thing, by satisfying the Federal requirement that 20% of all state expenditures on transportation be directed toward things OTHER to motorized trafic in order to get the other 80%.

#3 LJL on 11.19.20 at 6:16 pm

I’m certain someone said all the same things about I229 back when. We’re growing. Get over it.

#4 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 11.19.20 at 8:50 pm

I would like to see the once Yankton Trail through Sioux Falls be restored as a walking trail for people, dogs, and horses. Affordable homes will be destroyed as a result, but perhaps they could be relocated to Taupeville to add some color. This trail would also be especially fun at dusk during the Zombie Walk. It might, however, invite core city riffraff into the “suburbs”, but such a reality could help to equalize crime in our fine town as well.

#5 The Guy From Guernsey on 11.19.20 at 9:20 pm

“… allowing new residential and commercial development to be built so close to the proposed project …” and
“Trying to sell your home with a six-lane highway in your backyard could be a challenge …”
Me thinks someone bought a home without knowledge of this long-standing highway plan and was only recently made aware of it.
The plan and maps describing this project have been available for years. Yes, I know. There were no real estate agents who volunteered the info during the process of buying the property. News flash: unless specifically engaged as a buyer’s agent, the real estate agent is always working for the seller.

#6 The Guy From Guernsey on 11.19.20 at 9:29 pm

I would be interested in the opinions of those residing on the rapidly growing and somewhat transportation-isolated eastside of Sioux Falls. SD 100 would seem a quicker route to get to I-29 southbound.
From northern Lincoln County, I am looking forward to the completion of the route in order to offer a route to eastbound I-90.

#easyeastboundfromTaupeville

#7 "Very Stable Genius" on 11.19.20 at 10:12 pm

Every time I am near the 49th and Southeastern area, I find both humor and disbelief that a railroad goes through such a fine and solid neighborhood. Some day it will be a nature’s trail, however, but for now, it divides the comfortable from the rich.

#8 Technical Support on 11.20.20 at 6:42 am

As a resident of Taupeville I welcome SD 100. The warm sidewalks and cold beer down here should really draw in the drunken mob from the core.

#9 shouldhavebeendonelongago on 11.20.20 at 11:35 am

I live in the rich southeast side. We need to be able to get our Denali’s, GL350’s, Hummers, expensive boats, etc to the interstate faster. This is long past due. You poor people to the west can suck it.

#10 "Woodstock" on 11.20.20 at 2:31 pm

“…’warm sidewalks and cold beer’, reminds me of an old Earl Butz’s comment”…. ;-). #BringBackTheOldYanktonTrail!

#11 "Very Stable Genius" on 11.20.20 at 5:36 pm

That’s why I live closer to I-29 and I-229 (more west), so that my late model black Yukon can get on “the interstate faster”. #TahoesAreALesserVehicle #TrojanHorseDemocrat

#12 Who owns what on 11.21.20 at 9:31 am

A review of the land records my be necessary by the feds before any more money is spent to see who are the actual owners of the boom town land where this is going to be constructed. Karl Mundt and others made theirs 60 years ago with the I-29 and I-229 construction. There are one trick ponies back in action.

#13 "Very Stable Genius" on 11.21.20 at 12:33 pm

If they had Facebook back in the day, I wonder if good Dems would have been liking Mundt, too?

#14 l3wis on 11.21.20 at 6:09 pm

This comment is from the guest poster;

“The completed section is definitely a plus for the Sioux Falls area now and going forward especially since it did not blow through existing development. Moving forward maybe we should at least consider all possible options for the southern section of the project.”

#15 scott on 11.22.20 at 11:26 am

i am hoping the panhandlers move from the interstate off ramps to the stoplights on highway 100 when it’s completed. especially by the walmart on minnesota ave.

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