Entries Tagged 'Railroads' ↓

The Railroad Cleanup Team

Took this picture today of the cleanup project.

UPDATE: This is why train traffic downtown needs to go away

Okay, I know, it was just a big birdfeeder, but . . .

Cleanup operations are underway following a grain spill along train tracks in downtown Sioux Falls.

At least four cars carrying grain tipped near the viaduct just east of downtown

What if this would have been a petroleum product? What if it would have happened while crossing 8th street or Cliff Avenue and fell on a car?

This is why when we gave Warren Buffet $27 million dollars to build a new switchyard out of town we expected train traffic DT to lessen, it has actually gotten worse and switching is still going on South of the RR Redevelopment project.

I still believe this was the WORST negotiated deal in the HISTORY of the city. We got a patchwork of dirty land for $62 a square foot, and little else. This is why deals this big need to be negotiated in the OPEN. Thanks Mike for your leadership on this deal! If you want to charter another plane at taxpayer expense, may I suggest a one-way flight to Mexico on May 16th. Money well spent.

UPDATE: Some are wondering how close this de-railment was to the pylons of the viaduct and what kind of safety issues this has posed.

UPDATE II: Secret, Secret, Secret, RAMROD!

UPDATE II: Bravo to Warren Phear for digging up this Argus Leader story from a year ago. Apparently they released the names of the interested parties back than.

So what really was the administration trying to keep from us? But what is even more ironic is that the AL had this information for almost a year and apparently didn’t check the archives 🙂

Asking why Huether is a closed government advocate is like asking why the sky is blue. We know the answer to the question, yet we still struggle with why it has to be that way;

Sioux Falls officials are refusing to provide the identities of developers in the running for the first phase of the rail yard redevelopment project downtown.

I’m getting to the point, that I don’t even want to talk about it anymore. It is what it is. Lies, schemes, scams, boondoggles, etc. etc.

I will bet you though that Legacy Development is on that list, and that is why Heather and the city are pulling excuses from their rear ends.

Isn’t it ironic that while Huether is setting up his ‘legacy’ he keeps promoting ‘Legacy’.

UPDATE: Shocker! Legacy is one of the developers!

Of the six development firms who responded to the city’s request for qualifications for the rail yard redevelopment project, four are local to Sioux Falls: Lloyd Companies, Legacy Developments, Eighth and Railroad Center and Pender Cherapa. The other two submitters were Inland Development Partners of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, and Philadelphia-based development firm Smart Visions.

The funny part is that I have known for years Eighth and Railroad Center has been interested in developing this property since they border it. It’s not like Lloyd being interested in the property is some big secret either. Huether keeping the developers ‘secret’ is like saying he also knows Santa Claus isn’t real either, but isn’t going to tell anyone.

Railroad still storing cars downtown even after closure of old switchyard

I thought one of the reasons we gave Warren Buffet $27 million was to build a new switchyard and storage outside of town, but that hasn’t stopped the RR from storing cars in downtown. I took these pictures of more than 30 cars (including petroleum) around 13th and Cliff and more cars going North and South over the bike trail bridge.

We have spent $27 Million of Federal taxpayers money to move train storage and switching out of downtown, but it hasn’t happened. The RR redevelopment was negotiated very poorly, just like the downtown parking ramp. The taxpayers got stiffed.


Reducing Rail Traffic was part of Munson’s 2005 RR redevelopment plan

There seems to be some detractors when it comes to what I have been saying about reducing the rail traffic downtown after we took possession of the RR redevelopment land. I will apologize on one level where I was wrong. First off, I was unaware that two tracks would remain under Munson’s plan and secondly that this was mostly about the redevelopment. Those two items did not change under Huether’s plan. But Munson did want the rail traffic to reduce, substantially under his 2005 plan;

Sioux Falls Mayor David Munson says, “For any development we want to do moving those tracks is very important.”

Plus, the mayor says moving the tracks is an issue of safety. Traffic wouldn’t be backed up nearly as much anymore. And if a train were to derail while carrying hazardous material, it wouldn’t happen in the center of a growing city.

Munson says, “We’ve seen recently trains that have leaked, they’ve had to evacuate areas so we’re trying to stay ahead of that here.”

Ironically, these hazardous train cars are still parked several days a week next to Nelson Park only hundreds of feet from the Sioux River on the South and a kid’s skate park and swimming pool to the North.

In fact the RR has stated that rail traffic would NOT be reduced under Huether’s plan. They have stated that the trains will become shorter BUT more frequent. They were not kidding. As I have noted they have become a lot more frequent over Cliff Avenue next to Avera Hospital during noon and rush hour times. One of the factors that I can see is instead of using the old switch yard that is gone now, they are re-hooking and switching train cars in the area just North of Avera’s employee/overflow parking lot. They are also parking a lot more train cars in that area.

Also, under Munson’s 2005 plan, Mark Cotter felt that rail traffic and switching would reduce so much they could eventually tear down the 10th street viaduct;

But getting the switching yard moved could dramatically reduce the size of the 10th Street viaduct in years to come. “Twenty-five years down the road, when the viaduct needs to be reconstructed, we can bring in dirt,” Cotter says, because the viaduct no longer would have to span an entire switching yard. “Roads are cheaper to repair than bridges,” Cotter says.

I wonder if that is still the plan to tear down the viaducts in 2030?

As you can see, the original vision did include the redevelopment of the banana land and leaving two RR tracks, BUT it also envisioned reducing rail traffic significantly throughout downtown which apparently was left out of Huether’s plan.


Railyard Photos of the Past (Charles Luden) Part III

Here are photos I shot in 1964 of the downtown Sioux Falls rail yard.  I was in 9th grade at the time.  These were shot with a Kodak Brownie Starflash 127 so the resolution is not real good.  The rail yard was a busy place in those days.  Watching the action was exciting. At this time there was only the 10th street viaduct.  – Charles Luden

Railyard Photos of the Past (Charles Luden) Part II

Here are photos I shot in 1964 of the downtown Sioux Falls rail yard.  I was in 9th grade at the time.  These were shot with a Kodak Brownie Starflash 127 so the resolution is not real good.  The rail yard was a busy place in those days.  Watching the action was exciting. At this time there was only the 10th street viaduct.  – Charles Luden

The Railroad Relocation project does little to relieve downtown rail traffic

While there was probably a lot of fanfare and celebrating giving millions of Federal tax dollars to Warren Buffet today at a press conference (and probably millions more in city tax dollars), the project doesn’t do much in stopping or slowing train traffic downtown. Besides tearing out the old railyard, two train tracks in the same area will remain.

I have also noticed that traffic has increased over Cliff Avenue downtown near Avera hospital. Over the past month I have had to wait for trains to cross during the noon hour twice and once at 5 PM on a Friday Afternoon.

The original idea of the RR relocation project when it was cooked up by former mayor Munson and Tim Johnson was to limit or rid Downtown Sioux Falls of rail traffic and little to do with development.

While the current administration may call the project a huge ‘WIN’ for Sioux Falls, I think by not moving rail traffic from downtown was a huge ‘FAIL’ and an enormous waste of Federal tax dollars. When they talk about ‘Pork’ in DC, these are the kind of projects they are talking about.

Railroad Relocation Discussion

Cameraman Bruce and I hope to film this event as part of Design Week in Sioux Falls. Should be a good discussion. Join us!

The Future of the Railroad Relocation Project


I watched this presentation at the informational meeting yesterday. But I still have concerns. Accept for the fact that we blew $27 million of Federal tax dollars on land we will never recover our cost from and we never moved all the rail traffic from this area it will be interesting to see how they are going to buffer the rail traffic from this area;

• Will it be quiet enough for residential units in the area?

• With the railroad already saying traffic will become more frequent on the remaining tracks, how will you get to the development from the east safely and efficiently?

I have no problem with redeveloping this land, even though I worry about the pollutants left behind, as we should have learned from Phillips to the Falls. But without removing all of the train traffic from this area I feel the project as a whole fails to produce a setting for prime downtown redevelopment.

I was a big supporter of the project when first proposed by Mayor Munson, but once I found out the rail traffic is still going to be chugging through this area (and getting more frequent at other downtown and central parts of Sioux Falls) I’m not sure what we accomplished. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong 10 years down the road, but like Phillips to the Falls, I have my doubts.