For the next three Wednesdays, we're taking a look at some of the things that just drive you crazy. Our first report literally deals with driving. On our Facebook page, a lot of you tell us how bad the traffic is in Sioux Falls. So we decided to see if the city agrees with you...and what their plans are when it comes to managing the increasing number of cars on our roads.
Depending on where you're driving in Sioux Falls, it can either feel like a race track or a parking lot. But the common theme in both is there are a lot more cars on Sioux Falls streets; new residents and new businesses means roads are consistently busy. And for some drivers, it's just a little too much. "All routes are packed." Every afternoon, Monday through Friday, working mom Dara French drives from her job near the Sioux Falls airport to Garfield Elementary to pick up her daughter after school. She tells us she spends more time at red lights, stop signs and stopped in traffic than she does actually driving. And when you're on a budget like Dara is, that time literally is money. "If I have a quarter tank of gas and it has to last me, I am wasting gas each time I go down that way."
The key to improving Sioux Falls traffic situation is found in these offices inside the downtown Sioux Falls library. This is where the city's traffic engineers are working while their offices are renovated. And the guy whose job it is to get you where your going knows some of you aren't real happy.
"Traffic is pretty decent here. We're always trying to work to make things better though." Heath Hoftiezer is the city of Sioux Falls' principal traffic engineer. While you may think the problem roads in town are Minnesota and Cliff....or 26th and 41st....he's keeping his eye on other areas. "West 12th street around the 12th and Kiwanis area...that gets quite congested in the AM and PM peak. Up at I-229 and Benson...that interchange has quite a bit of congestion too that we're started to see."
Heath's office of engineers are already trying something new to ease traffic congestion, specifically on 26th Street. It's called the Adaptive Traffic System: a series of cameras and computers that determine when and where the street is becoming backed up...and synchs up traffic lights on the street to move more traffic through...faster. And it's that type of smart system that Heath says will be used in other problem areas of the city. "Systems that can be put in place and help us increase capacity along a roadway without necessarily adding lanes, those are huge things going forward in the future."
The old saying when it comes to Sioux Falls is that you can get anywhere in town in about 15 minutes. Dara French says it's not true. she says it's now more like a half hour to get anywhere...something she found out when she tried to get her sick kids to the doctor. "If I have to take the kids to the doctor and it's urgent...not an emergency but urgent...then it takes me a half hour to get to the clinic."
And as more people move to Sioux Falls...and more businesses open up shop here...Sioux Falls traffic engineers say they know they will only be managing more cars in the coming years.
We can also give you a sneak peek about an upcoming project planned for the intersection of 41st and Minnesota. A study is now being done to see if there is any possibility of adding more turn lanes for that intersection....to stop turning traffic from becoming so backed up in the area.
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