Entries Tagged 'Public Works' ↓

What did you think of the city’s response to the last snow storm?

Looks like Mayor Stoneless thinks we did a Heckuva job;

I will first defend Public Works and say that many things are out of their control. We often get early Spring heavy snowstorms, this is nothing new and they cause a ton of issues. Also, when it comes to snowgates, I think they tried to use them at first but with heavy snow they often break sheer pins and cause maintenance issues, so that argument is also moot.

What I find interesting is the response time. The two previous administrations tried to get the city plowed very quickly. I have heard behind the scenes that is not the goal of the current Plowing Czar and Mayor. In fact my street wasn’t plowed until after NOON on Tuesday, and it was pretty pointless because most of it had already melted by then.

I will still maintain that this administration is trying to get away with spending less money on snow removal each year. But $94 million dollar tax rebates to egg roll factories from Korea? Money well spent!

I warned about lack of plowing on residential streets

Well, if you think the residential streets are bad tonight, wait until the mess 24 hours from now.

I have been gradually seeing the past 3 years how the public works/street department in some weird effort to save money, has been neglecting to plow residential streets claiming ‘mother nature’ will do the job for them.

Sorry, that’s not the case in late December McFly.

Last Wednesday we had a blizzard that left about 3-4 inches and massive drifts on residential streets, none of it was plowed or removed. Yesterday we had another 2-3 inches added on top of that with little to no snow melt. The residential street I live on has well over 4 inches of half sloppy have compacted snow with several drift piles.

Oh, but it gets better, we are getting another 4-6 inches or more tomorrow on top of what is already making residential streets dangerous.

The main roads and emergency snow routes have been clean for a long time. Couldn’t the street department at least hit the troubled residential streets before we get hit in the morning?

I will remind people the main reason we pay taxes is for essential services, fire, police, street maintenance, you get the picture, unfortunately city hall thinks we need to save money on these things while we bail out non-profit private movie theaters, pay the salaries of management for closed entertainment facilities and give massive tax rebates to developers.

I’m still surprised I didn’t see volunteer church groups out scooping side streets yesterday. Don’t laugh, we are getting to that point with Prophet Stoneless running this city.

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.

Historic 8th Street Bridge almost complete

On a Sunday afternoon walk I saw that the deck on the bridge is complete and they started installing the parapet that are solid concrete.

Are the Sioux Falls Public Works ‘Jesus Plows’ part of a bigger plan to turn the department into a religious organization?

I have noticed over the past couple of years the kids painting the plows are getting more clever with how they show their wintry love for Jesus. While they don’t mention the Christian ghost on this plow, they cleverly turn the ‘T’ into a crucifix. I know, pretty cute.

Cute or not, it is still a violation of the separation clause (or better known as the establishment clause). Of course, I know the city’s public works department will just ignore this, because if you remember with the tornado cleanup last year, it seems our public works department is being replaced by church volunteers.

I fully expect to see members of a local Mega-Church this winter shoveling our emergency snow routes so we can use our taxdollars on more useful projects, like $26 million dollar bunker ramps to nowhere.

Praise be to God.

UPDATE: Project TRIM pilot program proves that the city can affordably trim city owned trees

UPDATE: I wanted to add that the Denny Sanford Premier Center probably costs taxpayers about $6 million a year (after sponsorships, profits, sales and sales tax revenue offset) that comes to $31.58 per year, per resident. Ironically, not everyone attends the EC and on top of that, you still have to buy a ticket to go there. I would say, Project TRIM at no cost would be a lot more bang for our buck.

I was surprised that the number was so low. $58 per property. If you are in violation in it’s current form, the city could charge you $150-$300 to trim THEIR trees, even though in reality we pay frontage fees/taxes to take care of these things. As Stehly points out in the meeting, it could be even lower if we contract the work with private contractors (creating local jobs) or using inmate labor.

I would also like to point out that these costs will get lower each year because the city will be doing this on a regular basis and keep it managed. I also think the price tag is a pittance for the trimming, $688K per year, compared to other expenditures in our city. That comes to about $3.62 per resident, per year. Half the price of a value meal at Mickey D’s. We can afford this.

Snowplow Cowboy?

A citizen has been telling me for awhile that a private contractor contracted for city snow removal that lives in their neighborhood is using a city contracted motor grader blade and snowgate to clear his personal driveway and the driveways of two of his friends in his neighborhood (as I understand it, one of his friends is a SFPO)*.

This occurred Monday, January 13th (when BTW, there was NO Snow Alert) between 5 and 6 a.m.  This citizen called to make the Street Department aware of this.  They were told a supervisor would address it.

OBVIOUSLY NOT, because he and a second motor grader were back in the neighborhood last evening (01-17-2020) clearing the same three driveways. 

Yesterday, the City issued a Snow Alert and notified the public that they would BEGIN to plow Zone 3 the morning of Saturday, January 18, 2020.

While some would say ‘this is a nice gesture’ I would likely agree, if it was a private contractor, but these maintainers are contracted by the city and outfitted with our tax dollars. In other words, a big no-no. What if some property got damaged while providing this ‘service’ or worse someone got hurt? Who would be responsible than?

*Who says POs in Sioux Falls don’t get fringe benefits? Free meals at the hospitals and now city funded snow removal of personal property.

City of Sioux Falls Internal Audit department makes my case for public garbage service

If you FF to about 37:00 in the above video, you will hear an interesting discussion about the Landfill audit.

I have argued for a long time that a public garbage service would save taxpayers millions of dollars a year. I have also suggested, like plowing the city streets, the city should contract those services with the major haulers that already exist in our city. Many have argued that would kill competition and would cost more.

Horse Puckey.

1) We would save on fuel costs because the haulers would be assigned certain neighborhoods and could pick up everyone’s garbage on the street at the same time

2) There would be savings in administering the billing process, it could be attached to our water/sewer bill

3) We would save money on wear and tear to our streets

4) It would help with recycling which would reduce landfill costs

5) There would be no complicated tipping fee structure with the contracted haulers, which would make landfill workers jobs less complicated

The data the internal auditor provided proves to me that the only haulers that would be put out of business are the ones that are not doing much anyway. According to their data there is 27 licensed haulers in Sioux Falls. The 4 largest put up to 72% of the waste in the landfill. The remaining haulers account for 28% of the waste which means on average each of those haulers brings in about 1.2% of the waste individually.

If the current system was really providing ‘competition’ why are 23 haulers not doing much business?

The other irony is that of the 4 major haulers, 2 of them are under similar ownership and just have different names. It’s kind of like all the odd ball tree trimming service providers in town that are owned by a handful of people.

Folks, this supposed competition you talk about doesn’t exist. Stop kidding yourself. It is time the city contracts with up to 6 different haulers, divide up the city, and start a public garbage service. Don’t take my word for it, just ask our internal auditor, I think their data makes a great case for it.

Why is the City of Sioux Falls seeking bids for private property upgrades?

To tell you the truth, I couldn’t answer this question, I post this out of curiosity;

The City of Sioux Falls, SD, requests formal bids for Minnehaha Country Club and The Country Club of Sioux Falls Pond Improvements.

Now I know the city has helped with retention and detention ponds in the past on private property, but I’m NOT sure how the costs are worked out with the property owners. I’m really kind of clueless how that works. But I find it interesting that the city would be using decorative course ponds as detention ponds. I guess you are killing two birds with one stone. But also remember, these are private recreational clubs who benefit from having those ponds. It reminds me of the massive levees we built with Federal and local tax dollars conveniently along the country clubs.

Hopefully someone from the city will explain how this all works.

It’s back to the well and is the well is drying up?

Guest Post by Bruce Danielson

Here we go again, let’s build up hysteria and then spend millions of dollars under the table, over the table and in closed back rooms but claim transparency. It’s now 2019 and let’s remember and discover what’s new in the city of Sioux Falls. We see the same things in every project of dubious or questionable value to the town.

Let’s review a few:

The City Center Administration Building had to be built because a planning department employee claimed he had pee running down his City Hall basement office wall.

An indoor swimming pool our town could not live without so it was built on land loaned to the City of Sioux Falls and could be repossessed by the real land owner, the Federal government at any time (and probably will once the VA expands some more).

An event center designed to suck every bit of money out of the community to the benefit of the construction and the out of town management companies. Then to top it all off, put it in a location guaranteed to NOT help the struggling locally owned businesses of Sioux Falls.

The different emergency for sewer and water infrastructure bonding of over $300 million dollars to benefit a set of special developers and to hide the disastrous City Center HVAC system mistakes.

The parking ramp that had to be built, even if it does bleed the Parking Enterprise fund down to nothing keeping us from having properly maintained streets to drive to the parking spots. To do this we saw illegal asbestos removal, a building collapsed, a man die, and a developer defaulting, what a trifecta all in the name of ___________ (you fill in the blank). Now we have to spend $1.5 million of 2nd penny infrastructure money to protect the building that should have never been built. WE have to protect our investment but whose head will roll because of this? By the way, where is the Parking Director Matt Nelson these days?

Now have you seen the strange looking new machine being hauled around town lately? (At the top of the page)

This recent Vermeer Grinder – Shredder purchase for $964,270 by the city is for use in grinding trees at the landfill and around Sioux Falls. Do you know what is wrong about this purchase? Sioux Falls has an agreement to have a private business do this for FREE. Hidden in plain sight (if you can find the Consent Agenda of the July 5th, 2019 Council meeting) is contract 19-4165. Our administration spent almost $1 million dollars of 2nd penny without any discussion. Not only do we take away money from the pothole budget, but we take work away from a private business who was doing the city’s shredding to undercut the limited market the business has developed.

Once again, a city of Sioux Falls administration, pretending to be legitimate, upstanding, honest, trustworthy (is it an “and” or an “or”) TRANSPARENT is screwing all of us and trying to hide the evidence.

It’s 2nd penny be damned, full steam ahead on bonding everything. Get ready for the next bonding project(s) that never were bonded before. This is to keep the bonding companies and their supporters happy. You even see it in the Charter Revision Commission this year. Now consider the new Southeast fire station, street projects (remember the 2nd penny was created so streets would NEVER be bonded), the new training center and more are going to be in the next go round of bonding coming to a city council near you. So say good bye to getting your potholes repaired. Expect to see your locally owned employer or your privately owned business going down with city hall’s wall pee as more of the city’s limited funds are taken over by the bonding companies, all for another edifice coming to you.