After about a year of hard work the Solberg Avenue Bridge is finally open to commuters. City leaders made it official with a ribbon cutting and inaugural parade Tuesday afternoon. The newly constructed bridge is a major milestone for the city as it's the first bridge the city has built over Interstate 229 in 21 years. The last bridge is about mile down the road on Louise Avenue. With this project completed, the hope is to improve the traffic and stress level on the southwest side of town.
It's the bane of every commuter on the Sioux Falls southwest side: 57th and Louise. This intersection alone sees 45,000 daily vehicles and that's on a good day. For the city, the best way to fix the problem is to bridge it.
"We've gotten about as much capacity out of that intersection as we need, ultimately we know that there's a delay when you go to that intersection once the Solberg Bridge is open later today about 4500 vehicles will start to use it and ultimately make that intersection work much more efficiently." Said Mark Cotter, the Sioux Falls director of Public Works.
For many, the daily commute just became less of a grind. The bridge not only helps the academic dean at National American University to get to work, but potentially helps her students as well.
"I'm excited because of how it's going to help our student population we have a predominantly nontraditional student population and transportation is always an issue and making our campus more accessible to them is really going to open up their opportunities." Said Kate Sommervold.
And not only does the bridge have the potential to reduce stress, it has the potential to save lives. The Avera Heart Hospital and North Central Heart Institute is a prime benefactor. Before the Solberg Bridge, 69th Street and Louise Avenue was the only way to access the hospital.
"For ambulances it'll be more of a shortcut from that side of town they don't have to drive all the way through Louise which can be very congested so I think it's going to be much more efficient and helpful and it will probably help future development in possibly some medical type of things in the future as well." said Dr. David Nagelhout, a cardiologist with North Central Heart.
While it may seem like a bridge to nowhere right now. The city says this is just step one. With more wheels coming to this side of town, it's just another example of the city's plans to expand.
"Again it will be a nice connection to open up this entire area to the South of us for new development but also a lot of people who just want to make their daily commutes through and across Sioux Falls and be able to have the option to not go through 57th and Louise." Said Cotter.
Many commuters probably still used their traditional way home on Tuesday, but if your commute takes you across I-229, you should definitely give the Solberg Bridge a try on your daily route.
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