Tournament time and road construction season will merge just a few blocks from the Sioux Falls Arena. We find out whether a bridge project on Russell Street will be a game-changer for those attending this weekend's Summit League tournament.
There won't be any basketball-style fast-breaks with orange barrels putting on a full-court press near the Sioux Falls Arena. Russell Street regulars say the bridge traffic is bad enough now; just wait for the Summit tournament games to start.
"It's congested as anything over here. I used to live right down the street here and had a heck of a time just getting out on the road," driver William Taylor said.
The construction will force arena-bound traffic coming from Interstate 29 into a single lane. Drivers like William Taylor think tournament-goers should avoid Russell altogether.
"Leave way early and if you can go a different way, definitely don't go down Russell, not when everybody else is going down Russell," Taylor said
But businesses located along Russell Street say there are no quick alternatives to the arena.
"The construction crews have done an awesome job as far as putting up signage and everything else, so Russell is probably the straightest route. It's going to be one-lane but I think they'll keep it going," store manager Jodie Sixtoes said.
City engineers say the weekend traffic will be spared the commuter congestion typical for a week day. Businesses hope that any game-day gridlock will be manageable and that tournament-generated profits are a slam-dunk.
"It's probably one of the biggest events of the year for us. Definitely a big influx of traffic for the whole city, so it's really nice," Sixtoes said.
The bridge work is part of the $18-million rebuilding of Russell Street that's expected to be completed in the fall, in time for the opening of the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.