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May 19, 2014 04:58 PM

Officials Hope New Stoplight Will Bring Safety

Sioux Falls, SD

The new stoplights installed at 33rd Street and Sycamore Avenue are a welcome sign for neighbors who know just how dangerous the stretch of street can be.

"Yes, it's kind of a race track between 26th down to 41st Street it seems like," mother Carla Dirkson said.

Dirkson drives her two children to Harvey Dunn Elementary School every day. She has to cross Sycamore Avenue to get there. She said the new traffic signals will make that task easier.

"You don't have to dodge between cars coming from north or south. Yeah, the stop light will definitely help that," Dirkson said.

City officials say new school boundaries and the need for students to cross the street to get to Harvey Dunn Elementary, coupled with the fact that traffic has increased at the intersection by 4,000 cars per day in the past five years, have prompted the new lights.

"33rd and Sycamore was starting to reach that point of needing a traffic signal without the school children but the school children definitely pushed it over the edge as needing to be in," Sioux Falls Traffic Engineer Heath Hoftiezer said.

Neighbors have been calling for the traffic lights for years. In 2007, Washington High School students Artyom Koval and Ashleigh Mauseth died after Koval was driving nearly 100 miles per hour and lost control of the car. In 2007, residents thought a stop light would slow down traffic.

2007 Story: Sycamore Known For Speeding

Hoftiezer says the city doesn't put up signals simply to slow down vehicles.

"When you put in an unwarranted traffic control device, it can cause other parts of the traffic network to increase in speed," Hoftiezer said.

2007 Story: SF Public Works: Sycamore Is Safe

But now city officials say the signals are warranted because of the increased traffic and the need for students to cross the street.

Dirkson is just glad the intersection will soon be safer.

"I think it's a great idea. It's too bad it's taken a long time, but I think it'll be a good change," Dirkson said.

City officials say it will likely be about a week before these lights are officially turned on.

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