As the City of Sioux Falls grows, so does its streets. Every summer, construction crews widen roads and intersections, but there are talks of doing just the opposite downtown. Public Works Director Mark Cotter said city leaders are considering reducing Main Avenue from three lanes of traffic to two lanes of traffic. Doing so, opens up more space to expand what Cotter calls "walkability". Business owners have urged city leaders to do this.
Main Avenue has shown growth in the past few years. One of the businesses you will find is Parker's Bistro. The restaurant is a favorite in the city all year round. However, the owner said summer and spring weather bring some challenges. You will notice there is only enough room for a few outdoor tables and chairs.
"Usually, we can get three out here," Stacy Newcomb-Weiland, Parker's Bistro owner, said.
Newcomb-Weiland would like to add even more tables in front of her restaurant. However, lack of sidewalk space limits what she can do, thus she may be losing customers during the warmer months.
"Everybody just wants to be outside as much as possible. We just have so much winter weather and cold weather," Newcomb-Weiland said.
Cotter said they would like to put Main Avenue through a process called a "road diet".
"Take one lane off and repurpose it," Cotter said.
Cotter said they will shrink this three lane road, which will make this more of a destination for people and businesses. This will allow them to add more parking spaces, a possible bike lane, and more sidewalk room for businesses like Parker's.
"Main Avenue is not Phillips Avenue, but it's got some very successful businesses and a lot of walkability," Cotter said.
Officials have also considered doing the same thing to Dakota Avenue, however right now the focus of this pilot program is on Main Avenue. So far, city officials are still developing concepts, so they are figuring out what this will look like and how much it will cost. Cotter said you will not see any big construction, because they will just re-arrange the lanes.
"We'll get some paint out, normally striping paint," Cotter said.
This is still pretty preliminary. Cotter said we may start seeing some of this development later on this summer. If all goes well, officials will consider making it permanent. If not, it will go back to the way it was.
Cotter says there was some interest in turning the one ways into two ways, so cars could go in both directions. However, they found this wasn't feasible in the area.