SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — 14,000 cars travel on a section of 14th Street in Sioux Falls every day, and that’s one of the reasons why some people who live in the area are worried about their safety.
KELOLAND News took a look at crash statistics on 14th Street’s intersection with Minnesota Avenue to the intersection with Cliff Avenue from October 31, 2018 to October 3 of this year. There were at least 30 crashes, with four involving injuries, according to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety. That’s just a snapshot. Sioux Falls Police say officers received more than 140 calls about crashes in the last few years.
A man who lives in the All Saints Neighborhood is proposing changes he says could improve walkability and save lives.
Dave Hrusovsky and his wife Julia Colins love calling their downtown neighborhood home, and they have no problem getting in their daily steps.
“We walk downtown every day,” Dave Hrusovsky said.
They don’t give every part of Downtown Sioux Falls the green light, though. They’ve seen several car crashes along this section of 14th Street, but that’s not all.
“We’ve almost got hit three times in the last six months,” Hrusvosky said.
Zach DeBoer shares these worries, and hopes to get on the other side of the problem. DeBoer lives in the area, and released a video about 14th Street.
“It kind of acts like an asphalt moat that separates the All Saints Neighborhood and Downtown Sioux Falls,” DeBoer said.
He’s spent a lot of time studying the area and other solutions cities have used to make themselves more walkable. He says his fixes are simple, including narrowing these lanes by a foot to help prevent speeding, painting zebra striped crosswalks on all the intersections along 14th, and eventually creating a center turn lane.
“It is an issue, it’s not getting any better and we need to try new tactics,” DeBoer said.
President of Downtown Sioux Falls INC., Joe Batcheller says changing 14th Street could be vital for safety, but also the future of the area.
“We want to connect, grow, and celebrate Downtown. It’s kind of hard to do that when you have streets that are hard to get across,” Batcheller said.
Principal Engineer Heath Hoftiezer is talking with DeBoer, and says these ideas are feasible, but says there are still a few challenges to sort out.
“One of the struggles is, like on 14th Street right now, it’s a concrete section. So, there’s joint lines out on the streets. When we start re-striping in different spots, then we have a lot of joint lines that don’t match up with lanes,” Hoftiezer said.
Right now these are only ideas, and no official changes are happening. DeBoer is confident in his proposals, and hopes to work with the city to improve this area, and knows drivers may have concerns about his plans delaying their daily commutes.
“In this particular design, by theory, it wouldn’t be any longer. I would say, even if it is, you know, we’re looking at two to three minutes longer commute. When you weigh that against the cost of a human life, I think that choice is pretty easy to make,” DeBoer said.