Plans to relocate the railroad switchyard out of downtown Sioux Falls are moving forward. This comes after two highly contentious meetings this week between project managers and upset citizens. Thursday, Mayor Mike Huether and Public Works Director Mark Cotter said feedback from the 500 people who showed up at the meetings is relevant.
"We heard you loud and clear. Your issues and concerns will be strongly considered," Mayor Mike Huether said.
Now the next steps in the project are evaluating the need and purpose of moving the switchyard, whittling down the remaining alternative sites and looking at environmental impacts. According to Huether, the project has never been this far.
"We get to some of these that meet the mustard, or smell test. Ultimately, people will come around and understand the long-term value of this project. The long-term value is just amazing," Huether said.
A number of people said there are more dangers than value at the alternative sites in Brandon and potential siding site in a southeast Sioux Falls neighborhood. Project leaders said even if these areas are unpopular, federal agencies require them to look at all sites that could work. Huether said it may be hard now, but a modern switchyard could be a huge win for everyone.
"Folks, if you think we're going to be driving more cars in the future, you're wrong. We're going to be relying on things like railroads to not only move people, but moving materials, enhancing commerce in the years to come," Huether said.
According to Brandon City Council Member Bob Bruning, not everyone is against the project as a whole. He agreed it could boost Brandon, but wanted a better compromise on where it would go.
"Right in our people's backyard, in our growth area's backyard, right across the street from child care centers and residential-zoned areas. Further commercial development. It's not a good fit and it would be an unwelcome addition to that site," Bruning said.