If, like me, you've ever driven on the southeast side of Sioux Falls odds are you have passed through the 26th Street and Southeastern intersection. Or have tried to get onto I-229 from 26th Street or Yeager Road. Or have tried to get onto 26th Street from I-229 N.

And if, like me, you have done any of those, especially around rush hour or (worse yet) if a train is coming through, you realize that the traffic there SUCKS!

Well, the good news is that they are going to do something about it. Construction of the new Rotary Park is already well underway as they move it to the other side of the river to allow for the new construction.

But as that construction began it got me to wondering. I knew the plan was to take 26th Street OVER the railroad tracks, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out how they were going to do that.

Well, I need not wonder anymore. After a bit of quick research I discovered that the Department of Transportation actually has detailed information and even artist renderings that show what it is all going to look like.

South Dakota Department of Transportation

To say that this has been a project long in the making is an understatement. The whole process actually began back in 2012 when the project began gathering data on traffic, noise levels and more, met with the public and businesses in the area and began to ask questions. And boy, did they have questions. Here are just some of the ones asked:

  • Can the interchange ramps be improved at Yeager Road?
  • Can traffic delays be reduced on 26th Street?
  • Can access to Cliff Avenue Greenhouse and the YMCA Day Camp be improved?
  • Can the Canoe Launch access on the Big Sioux River be improved?
  • Can a trail be built on the west side of the Big Sioux River?
  • Can a roadway connection be made between Pasley Park and Rotary Park?
  • Can a bridge be built to cross over the railroad tracks?
  • What happens to Southeastern Avenue if 26th Street is raised over the railroad tracks?
  • Can we improve pedestrian access from 26th street to the trail system?

In 2013, they had come up with 9 options for the 26th Street/I-229 interchange and 6 options for the 26th Street/Southeastern Avenue intersection. After some additional public input, that ballooned to a whopping 20 options for the interchange alone.

In 2014 they whittled it down to 3 interchange options and 2 options for the intersection. Once again, in 2015 they showed off their preferred option to the public and began getting all the necessary state and federal approvals and conducting the necessary surveys to complete the detailed final design. That continued through 2016 and 2017.

Now, it's 2018 and the project is underway. As I mentioned, the move of Rotary Park is already underway. However, the wet summer we have had has delayed that project and it is a bit behind schedule. The beginning of the actual road construction isn't slated to begin until 2019 and won't be completed until 2020. Based on the renderings and detailed descriptions of what is going to be involved, I think 2020 is going to be a bit of a reach, considering how unpredictable South Dakota weather can be.

You can check out a complete timeline of the project in their public presentation.

The good news is that, again, based on the renderings and plans it will make traffic on the southeastern side of the side a lot better moving forward. That being said, if you think traffic along that corridor sucks now, just wait! You ain't seen nothin' yet.

Check Out More Renderings:

I-229/26th Street/Southeastern Avenue Reconstruction Project

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