SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — You can see the Amazon fulfillment center from here, and the water tower in Crooks.
Here is a gravel stretch of North Marion Road that drivers in the immediate area know well but familiarity is doubtful for the rest of Sioux Falls. Still, while Veterans Parkway is bustling with construction, construction continues on this road surrounded by acreages and farm fields.
“Some people think it’s off the beaten path,” Dean Dziedzic, the vice president of economic development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, said of North Marion Road. The development foundation has developed an area in northern Sioux Falls called Foundation Park.
“This is really the first development in the city north of I-90,” Dziedzic said of Foundation Park.
“This is kind of hidden away, north of I-90 and west of I-29,” Brad Ludens, a principal engineer for the city of Sioux Falls, said.
North Marion Road is roughly 1 1/2 to 2 miles from Crooks and at the northern boundary of the Sioux Falls city limits.
So, why did the city of Sioux Falls need this gravel road once owned by a township to be turned into a concrete roadway? Traffic and development are the two main reasons.
“The traffic increase that we’ve already seen but also the traffic increase we expect to see over the next 20 years as Foundation Park fills in and more people move to Sioux Falls…,” Ludens said.
Dziedzic said the paved road is needed as the Foundation continues to develop a section of the overall Foundation Park area called Foundation Park North.
A paved road is important for access to Foundation Park North, he said. And it will connect that section of North Marion Road to the paved section completed in 2022 near the Amazon center.
The city and Development Foundation have discussed the vision of continued expansion of Foundation Park to the north and development in that area, Dziedzic said.
“It’s been a great collaborative effort between us, the city and county,” he said.
Ludens said the city is using concrete because of expected increases in truck traffic.
“Gravel roads are just not designed to handle that volume of traffic or the weight of trucks that will travel on it,” Ludens said.
The section of the North Marion is quickly becoming the chosen route for commuters who travel from Crooks and the surrounding area, Dziedzic and Ludens said. Residents also use the road to travel to Sioux Falls for non-work reasons.
Ludens said neighbors in the area have also shared about increased road use by Amazon, Fed Ex and other delivery trucks.
The traffic count will be about 2,000 to 3,000 vehicles per day. It’s estimated that in 20 years, it will be 20,000 vehicles a day, Ludens said.
The multi-phase overall project driven by traffic is in its second year. The road is closed to through traffic until later this fall.
The project cost for 2023 is $3 million. The city will spend about $2.3 million and Minnehaha County will spend about $733,000, Ludens said. North Marion will be paved with concrete from the intersection with 259th Street to the intersection with 258th or County Road 130 to the north. County Road 130 is often referred to as the Crooks-Renner Road.
Picture a now gravel road converted to concrete traffic lanes and turning lanes. Add in street lights and the street resembles more of the established roadways within the city.
The surface work is the most expensive part of the project at about $1.1 million followed by the grading, mobilization and related work at about $946,000. The project also includes water main replacement at about $437,600. Other pieces include traffic control equipment, street lights, pavement marks and related.
The overall project also includes an overpass over the existing railroad tracks but the final design has not yet been determined, Ludens said.
The section of North Marion will be a concrete two-lane road with turning lanes but it can be expanded in the future, Ludens said. “It will be built to allow for four lanes,” he said.
Ludens said the next piece should start in early to mid-September on Minnehaha County Road 130. Turning lanes to North Marion Road will be added to the county road, he said.
That work will likely close a section of County Road 130 for two months, he said.
Many trucks entering and leaving the Foundation Park and Foundation Park going north or south on I-29 will use the 130 exit, Dziedzic said. That option will be more efficient with a paved North Marion Road and turning lanes on County Road 130, he said.
Industry, business and commuters aren’t the only traffic on North Marion Road.
Walmart, Aldi and other retailers are not too far down the road. Both Ludens and Dziedic said more retail and housing development are expected in the area.