SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — With hundreds of newly released documents from various studies, the South Veterans Parkway project is ready to start construction in 2023.
The project of connecting Interstate 90 and Interstate 29 via Veterans Parkway has been decades in the making and encompasses federal, state and local governments. Last week, the final Supplemental Environmental Assessment was released with additional traffic, noise, visual and wetland impact studies.
Shannon Ausen, an engineer with the city of Sioux Falls, said construction will start in 2023 and continue until 2027 on the final 8.7 miles of South Veterans Parkway. Construction will happen in two-mile segments, starting with the two miles between Western Avenue and Cliff Avenue in southern Sioux Falls.
“By 2027, we’ll be able to go from Interstate 29 all the way up to Interstate 90,” Ausen told KELOLAND News. “It’ll be wonderful for that, for that East Side (of Sioux Falls) that will be able to have another way to get around the city versus going right through the city.”
Ausen said the Supplemental EA study is standard process for any project through the Federal Highway Administration and it allows people to know what is being planned. The Supplemental EA included updated noise and visual studies for the project after neighborhoods near 85th Street and Minnesota Avenue raised concerns.
One of those people concerned is Wayne Wilhelmi who lives in the Harmony Estates neighborhood where the new six-lane highway will be adjacent to. Wilhelmi told KELOLAND News his main concerns are safety related along with concerns about noise and lights.
The Supplemental EA addresses some of those concerns with changes to Veterans Parkway in that area. The changes include narrowing the 32-foot-wide elevated median, installing a concrete barrier median that is tall enough to block traffic headlights and installing a vegetative buffer between the road surface and residences. Cable guardrails will also be installed between 85th Street and Cliff Avenue on the north side to address safety concerns.
Ausen said Veterans Parkway project members have held more than 75 landowner meetings, small neighborhood meetings and expects to have more than 100 landowner meetings before the project is finished. She said the project has made some adjustments after hearing public feedback but also noted developers in southern Sioux Falls have always been aware of the Veterans Parkway project since the early 2000s.
“It’s very important that the residents understand and even the adjacent property owners that we’re all in this together,” Ausen said. “We’re trying to find the best corridor that will fit within each neighborhood. I realize there’s been a lot of development that’s been adjacent to the corridor and we’re working with those neighborhoods to ensure we try to minimize the impacts of the corridor adjacent to those developed areas.”
Ausen encouraged people to attend the public open house to discuss the Supplemental EA at 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 1 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. Ahead of the meeting, she also encouraged people to read all of the documents related to the project on South Veterans Parkway’s website. For people without computers, Ausen said paper copies of the Supplemental EA are available at the Sioux Falls City Center and at the Department of Transportation’s local office in northern Sioux Falls.
“We just want to be able to hear from them. This is a public open house so we can accept public comments,” Ausen said. “The environmental assessment has many different areas that we will be reviewing and updating from the original environmental assessment that was approved back in 2012.”
Final stretch of North Veterans Parkway to be finished
Currently, North Veterans Parkway is mostly complete from I-90 all the way to 57th Street. The stretch from Arrowhead Parkway north to Madison Street is not the full six-lane width like the rest of Veterans Parkway but that will be changed in 2024 and 2025.
Ausen said the DOT wants to finish the new intersection of Arrowhead Parkway and Six Mile Road first so it can be part of the detour route for when Veterans Parkway and Arrowhead Parkway will be shut down.
“It’s anticipated to be a two-year closure because we are lowering that intersection and making it very, very large,” Ausen said. “Hopefully in 2024 and 2025, we’ll be able to start that construction project at Arrowhead and Veterans and get that completed to make the entire corridor complete.”