You think construction is bad on Minnesota Avenue, wait until next year when the city begins reconstructing East 26th Street near Southeastern Drive. Even the city says it’s going to be a nightmare.
The city says it’s going to take two years and close to $40 million to build a six lane overpass over the railroad tracks near Rotary Park. While it’s going to be a big headache for drivers in that area while it’s under construction, the city says they’ll love it when it’s finished.
For years, trains have derailed morning and evening commutes along East 26th Street.
“This is one of the busiest sections in town and probably one of the most congestion during rush hour,” City Engineer Chad Huwe said.
Every time a train crosses, traffic gets backed up for blocks.
That’s why the city and the South Dakota Department of Transportation have teamed up for a huge undertaking.
“It’ll be one of the biggest we’ve ever done,” Huwe said.
Starting next spring, they’ll begin building a huge overpass so drivers won’t have to sit and wait for the trains.
“It’s going to be a two year project, it’s going to test our street crews and probably most people’s patience,” Huwe said.
Because of the anticipated construction, the city is in the process of relocating Rotary Park to the west side of the river.
“There’ll be a brand new restroom, brand new shelter and a brand new playground over there. A big part of it is the pedestrian bridge and that’s so people who use the bike trail can get over to the west side of the river to use the park,” Construction Inspector Brian Eisland said.
That bridge will span 200 feet over the river when it’s complete. They’ve had to build what’s called a ‘coffer dam’ to keep the river bottom dry enough to get the bridge footings in place.
But the weather has delayed the project.
“It’s already wet the way it is, we’ve had a pretty wet summer so it’s been tough but they’ve been doing well,” Eisland said.
The park is scheduled to be done before the end of the year, just in time for crews to begin work on the 26th Street overpass.
“But it’s going to improve access to the whole area, it’s going to make traffic move more efficiently and safer,” Huwe said.
The city will have make shift tunnels in place to keep that portion of the bike path open while crews work on the overpass.