SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Construction on the South Veterans Parkway project in Sioux Falls begins June 8, ushering in another visible stage of growth for the city.
To get a sense of what this growth will mean for the city, KELOLAND News sat down with City of Sioux Falls Assistant Director of Planning and Development Services Kevin Smith, and Engineering Program Manager Shannon Ausen.
As a visual guide, we were provided with a graphic of future land use expectations for the year 2040.
That map provides a breakdown of the major roads, streets and highways through the city, including the yet-to-be-built South Veterans Parkway. Along this new route and areas marked for business parks and sub-regional employment centers, as well as potential city parks and school sites.
“The larger intersections, and this is where we really get into what’s going to develop around Veterans Parkway, those business park-type developments — there’s going to be up to 120 acres of a mix of commercial, office, mixed uses, as well as high density residential,” said Smith.
So the area surrounding the new route around the city will be sprinkled with business parks and apartment-type units near its access points, which Smith explains will help provide a barrier between the road and the neighborhoods that will spring up near it.
One goal of the project, according to Smith, is to preserve the existing communities within Sioux Falls.
Without a corridor across town to help ease growing traffic volume, the city would need to add more capacity to the already existing streets, buying up property, leveling houses, and carving up neighborhoods with 6-lane roads.
Once the project is completed, Smith says that a person driving up Veterans Parkway will see a continuation of some of the southerly growth the city has been experiencing.
Maybe what’s more interesting though, is what Smith says you won’t see. “You won’t see a 41st St. kind of strip development,” he said. “You won’t see a lot of driveways and commercial along the length of those arterials (the longer stretches of road between intersections).”
What Smith says you will see is a more condensed form of multi-use development at the interactions, which will filter back into more apartments and then into single-family residential neighborhoods.
Much of this is due to just what kind of road Veterans Parkway will be.
Ausen explained that the idea for a perimeter-type road around the city has been in place for decades, and the actual study of the route began in the 1990s.
That study determined that we did not need another interstate road system, but rather an arterial corridor with limited access.
This idea of limited access was what Smith was referring to in his reference to the parkway not being like 41st St. “He mentioned 41st St. having an access every 100-feet,” Ausen said. “It’s easy to see that doesn’t move traffic. It’s great for businesses but you still have a lot of congestion, so we needed a higher standard of arterial to provide access.”
Veterans Parkway will serve a different purpose than a street like 41st.
“The hierarchy [for roadways] basically starts at your interstate system and then goes to your state highway, then you’re regional arterial — which is where Veterans Parkway is — and then the next level down would just be your minor arterial, which would be like your 57th Streets,” Ausen explained.
From these streets, the hierarchy continues to extend down to collector streets and then your local residential streets.
Each of these different types of streets serves different purposes and requires different conditions. Your local streets require low speeds because you will people pulling in and out of driveways, playing in yards, and walking down the sidewalk.
Next up are the collector streets — streets like Bahnson Avenue, Tomar Road, and Valley View Road — which you find when leaving your neighborhood. These will still have plenty of driveways and houses and pedestrian traffic along them, but they’re likely a bit wider, maybe with an extra lane, and maybe with a slightly higher speed limit.
The purpose of collector streets is to pull traffic from the neighborhoods and convey them to the next step; the minor arterials.
Of the minor arterials, 41st Street with its parking lot entrances every 100-feet is a poor example, for a large portion of it at least. A better example can be found in places like 57th St., or Russell St.
These roadways are generally 4-lanes, have higher speeds, and offer fewer places to turn on and off. They are meant as a means to connect different areas. These roadways also generally have fewer places where you are required to stop. These places will usually be large 4-way stoplights where the road intersects with another large road or a major collector street.
Next up are the regional arterial roads. In Sioux Falls, the completed Veterans Parkway will stand more or less alone. Local streets, for the most part, will not connect to this roadway, which will connect primarily to larger streets like Minnesota, Cliff and 57th.
Speeds will be higher still, and stops will consist of major intersections marked by stoplights which will serve as the entry-point from the parkway.
You can think of the Veterans Parkway arterial route as a similar roadway as I-229, with a handful of major differences.
Just as you don’t turn directly off of the interstate into a parking lot or a driveway, you won’t be turning off of Veterans Parkway. Just as you only enter and leave an interstate via exit ramps, you will likewise leave and enter the parkway through 4-way intersections.
“The exit standards along Veterans Parkway are mile access points, which are very similar to interstate systems, but those mile access points are at-grade, meaning there’s no ramps, no bridges that go over Veterans Parkway,” said Ausen.
Because of these intersections, which will prevent traffic on the parkway from reaching the continuous flow reserved for interstates, Veterans Parkway will not replace I-229.
“Those that use I-229 now will still use I-299, but South Veterans Parkway, because of the growth [of the city] will continue to increase in traffic volume,” Ausen said.
What we are really seeing when we look at the future projection of Sioux Falls post-Veterans Parkway completion, is a Sioux Falls that is growing up.
Sioux Falls has long been the largest city in the region, but what we expect to see in the coming years is a city that begins to meet the municipal boundaries of its growth. By the 2040 projection, Sioux Falls will have grown to the south as far as it is able before bumping up against the municipal boundary of Harrisburg.
The division between the cities will not be a stretch of roadway with scattered farmland, but simply two sides of the same street, indistinguishable to the casual observer. This will likely be the case with Tea, and to a certain degree Brandon and even Crooks eventually.
Because of this, there is a lot of communication between Sioux Falls and its smaller neighbors.
“There is a metropolitan planning organization, federally mandated since the 1970s that requires us in the metro area to work together on transportation planning projects,” said Smith. “Up until the last several years, it was easier for the communities to still kind of do their own thing.”
Now though, Smith says that in the not-too-distant future, these communities will be directly up against one another. “With our transportation projects — we need to make those investments together,” he said.
Smith looks forward to this connectivity and the bonds that will need to be formed.
“The level of coordination between the communities in the region,” is what Smith says he’s most excited for. “We’re not that far apart and looking back to the early 90s, this was looked at as just a Sioux Falls thing, but it’s now become hopefully obvious to the region — this impacts everyone in a positive way.”
As for Ausen, she says she’s excited to see the project reach completion and be used. “So what I’m most excited about is to make that connection over to Interstate 29 and see it to its true ability,” she said. “That corridor is going to advance the City of Sioux Falls and our surrounding areas in many many years to come.”
You can find more information and updates on the project website at southveteransparkway.com.