Traffic picks up as COVID-19 restrictions loosen in Sioux Falls

KELOLAND.com Original
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Is it a coincidence, directly related to COVID-19 changes or nicer weather, or maybe a combination of all three?

Whatever the reason(s), traffic counts at five specifically monitored intersections in Sioux Falls have increased over April since May 1. Counts hit the highest two-day total since in March on Friday, May 8, with .80 and on Saturday, May 9, with .79.

By comparison, the traffic index number was .78 on March 1, 1.01 on March 3, 1.11 on March 6 and .90 on March 16.

The city is monitoring traffic during the coronavirus pandemic at these intersections: 26th Street and Lorraine Drive, Madison Street and Western Avenue, 41st Street and Louise Avenue, 18th Street and Minnesota Avenue, and 26th Street and Sycamore Avenue. City officials have said those intersections are good representatives of traffic patterns in Sioux Falls.

This is the traffic index chart from the city of Sioux Falls. The top gold line is 2019 numbers while the lower blue line is 2020 numbers.

The traffic index, which is a way of measuring how many vehicles pass through the five intersections each day, has been .70 or above except one day, .60, on May 3, since May 1.

The traffic index numbers were .70 or above April 28-30. Before that, numbers were .70 or above on seven other dates in April compared to 20 dates at below .70.

On April 27, Gov. Kristi Noem said she would be announcing a get back to normal plan for the state on the following Tuesday. Traffic index numbers in Sioux Falls have been at .71 or above since April 28 except on May 1.

The Sioux Falls City Council had a first ordinance reading on relaxing COVID-19 restrictions at a May 1 meeting. The traffic index was .71 on May 2. When the new ordinance was passed on Thursday morning, May 7, the traffic index was .75 followed by .80 on Friday, May 8, and .79 on Saturday, May 9.

The traffic index is one indicator of flow but so are the actual vehicles counts. On Saturday, May 9, 53,125 vehicles passed through the intersection of 41st and Louise. Fifty-thousand vehicles haven’t passed through that intersection since March 29 when 55,121 vehicles passed through the intersection. At 26th and Sycamore, 38,551 vehicles passed through on Saturday. Another 38,000 had passed through on Friday. The numbers were a few thousand lower generally throughout April.

High temperatures were in the 50s on May 7 and May 8 and lower 60s on May 9. Upper 40s on May 10.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation has shared March and April traffic counts in terms of decline by percentage.

The counts are split into categories of state highways, rural interstates, rural non-interstate and urban. Traffic declined by at least 20% in all four categories from March 13-31 and again during April. The SD DOT has not posted any numbers from May.

State highway traffic declineMarch 13-31, -25%, April -36%
Rural interstate traffic declineMarch 13-31, -25%, April -40%
Rural non interstate declineMarch 13-21, -20%, April -32%
Urban traffic declineMarch 13-21, -25%, April -34%
South Dakota Department of Transportation traffic counts in percentage of decline.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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