SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The process of connecting eastern Sioux Falls to Interstate 29 is underway. 

The officials in charge of the 8.5-mile, four-year road construction project want to hear from the public. Currently, a virtual public meeting is being held through May 29 on the project’s website where people can offer comments and learn more about the project. 

“This kickoff public meeting is basically reintroducing the project to the citizens that live along the corridor,” Shannon Ausen, principal engineer with the city of Sioux Falls, said. “Since we originally started the project back in 2003, we have a lot of new property owners. So we just want to bring them up to speed.” 

The Veterans Parkway project dates back to a transportation study in 1993 about future traffic growth for Sioux Falls and the region. That study concluded another interstate was not needed but rather a “regional arterial corridor.” A “corridor” will go around the city, have higher speed limits, limited access and will provide multimodal connections (side paths). 

When construction begins in 2023, 200-feet of a right-of-way corridor will feature six lanes, three lanes in each direction, along with a side path. Areas could also be complemented by a berm, like parts on North Veterans Parkway between Arrowhead Parkway and 57th Street. 

Construction of South Veterans Parkway will happen in four parts in 2023 (Western Ave. to Cliff Ave.), 2024 (I-29 to Western Ave.), 2025 (Cliff Ave. to Sycamore Ave.) and 2026 (Sycamore Ave. to 57th St.).

Funding for the project is roughly $210 million with state and federal dollars making up $176 million and the city of Sioux Falls chipping in $33 million. 

Why is the road alignment cross country? 

In 2003, and again in 2012, the city of Sioux Falls and South Dakota Department of Transportation held environmental planning and public engagement meetings to determine a location of alignment for South Veterans Parkway.  

In the virtual meeting, Ausen said officials looked at many options for South Veterans Parkway, including Six Mile Road and as far south as Highway 106. One key deciding factor was building the road “in Sioux Falls’ growth area.” Officials determined Highway 106 was outside of the city growth area and already had a lot of development and access points. 

Developers of land in southern Sioux Falls have known about the alignment of the project, but Ausen noted what was once just farmland neighboring the highway’s alignment is now homes in some cases. Most notably, a segment of South Veterans Parkway in between Cliff Ave. and Minnesota Ave. will cut through two housing developments. 

“We need to work with them to accommodate them,” Ausen said about homeowners in the area. “We want to come to a consensus and make the corridor a complement to the area.”

Part of South Veterans Parkway will neighbor housing developments in southern Sioux Falls.

Part of the North Veterans Parkway neighbors single-family homes by 18th St. and 26th St., where a berm separates the road from homes. Expect many of the same features for South Veterans Parkway, Ausen said.

“The portions we’ve already constructed are great examples of what the corridor will look like in these neighborhoods,” Ausen said. 

When completed, drivers will be able to connect from Interstate 29 at Exit 73 (Tea interchange) to Interstate 90 at Exit 402 (Veterans Parkway and 478th). The project will ultimately prevent future transportation limitations that would occur if nothing is done.

What’s planned for 2021? 

Ausen said this first virtual public meeting is the first of “many” public meetings on the project. More meetings, likely in-person, will be held in August, September or October.  

Also coming in 2021 will be an updated environmental study, soil sampling, wildlife impacts as well as more noise analysis and further project design.  

“Our design team is out there almost every day,” Ausen said. “In the next six to nine months, we’re going to be out in the corridor a lot. Those reports will all be included in our environmental assessment.”