SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – If you drive Minnesota Avenue just north of downtown Sioux Falls, you’ll notice a lot of changes. 

Phase 1 of the city’s Minnesota Avenue reconstruction plans has officially wrapped up and new accent lighting will debut over Labor Day weekend. You can view some of the new streetscaping elements, signs and additional lighting in the photos below. 

“Minnesota Avenue is an important corridor within Sioux Falls both as an artery and our transportation network as a gateway in the downtown from the airport,” Wes Philips, principal engineer for the city of Sioux Falls, said during a city news conference Wednesday. 

The $14 million project started last summer with a massive 42-inch water main replacement between Russell Street to 2nd Street. Philips said surface construction on the project wrapped up in Fall 2022 but equipment delays postponed the pedestrian elements.

“A lot of what you see that is different is the pedestrian signing and lighting,” Philips said. “It’s definitely a different look but we’re trying to insinuate it as a different corridor coming from the airport to downtown.”   

That different look will be on display during Labor Day weekend as the accent lighting will look red, white and blue during the night hours, according to light, power and traffic superintendent Jerry Jongeling.

“We’ll have the lights change slowly from red, white and blue,” Jongeling said. “We will be considerate of the drivers as they will slowly fade in-and-out.” 

Jongeling said the accent lighting will be used during the seven recognized federal holidays. 

“The overhead street lights will not change colors for safety reasons,” Jongeling said. “The accent lighting on non-holidays will be a regular white color.” 

Jongeling said the city has similar light accenting under the 8th Street Bridge, at Falls Park and the Arc of Dreams. 

The lighting improvements will continue with Minnesota Avenue reconstruction all the way to 18th Street. Phase 2 of the project, from 2nd Street to 7th Street, is listed in the city’s Capital Improvement Plan to be reconstructed in the next five years. 

Part of the delay with Phase 2 was the 42-inch water main has a 40-week delivery timeframe and some of the funds were transferred to cover higher costs with the 6th Street bridge. The water transmission line carries and estimated 30% of the city’s daily water supply.

Philips pointed out Minnesota’s right-of-way is less than 100 feet which is typical for main arterial streets in the city. That’s why there was not room for plants and greenery in the raised median splitting north- and south-bound traffic. 

The goal of reconstructing Minnesota Avenue is to help spur more development with one of the main streets connecting to downtown. 

“The city is looking at the big picture on Minnesota Avenue with Public Works focused on the reconstruction and Planning and Development Services teams studying how the corridor could incorporate more mixed-use zoning in the future with development.”