Commuters beware: construction season is upon us

Phase one of the four-phase project is underway. The Sixth Street construction is scheduled to be completed June of 2018. 

It might be time for students and community members to start their commutes earlier in the day. 

Construction on Sixth Street brings with it speed reductions, two-lane traffic and detours. 

The Sixth Street construction between 22nd Avenue and across Interstate 29 is planned to last at least a year. The four-phase, $16.3 million project will include new surfacing, curb and gutter, storm sewer, sidewalk, traffic signals, a new five-lane bridge with sidewalk, numerous intersection improvements, roadway lighting and city utility work.

“I’m a little annoyed,” said Aristarchus Payton, junior sports management major. 

A resident of Eastcrest Townhomes, located directly behind Wal-Mart, Payton lives right next to the construction and is worried that, when the intersection is closed, his commute to school and work will be affected. 

The speed limit along Sixth Street will be lowered to 30 mph throughout construction and it will be made into a two-lane road, which will alternate sides as each part is completed. 

Currently the intersection is still open, but Payton said the construction has already made his commute longer. 

Local traffic will be detoured onto State Avenue and Sunrise Ridge Road from the south, and Ninth Street and Sunrise Ridge Road from the north during the 22nd Avenue intersection work.

Nic Auringer, project manager at BXCC, the company in charge of construction, recommended using the Volga bypass, exit 133, to pass construction entirely. The speed limit on the Highway 14 bypass will be reduced to 45 mph along the detour route. 

Payton said beginning construction during the school year was a bad decision. But, according to Auringer, it was impossible to put it off.

“The timeline of this project requires such an early start,” Auringer said. “There’s too much work to be done to start any later.”

The many businesses that line Sixth Street will be affected, but the city plans to place signs directing commuters toward alternative entrances. 

“We’re going to do the best we can to ensure access for everybody,” Auringer said. 

Though the speed limit to the north and south of exit 132 will be reduced to 65 mph, Chloe Kunkel, junior in human development family studies and Sioux Falls commuter, isn’t too worried the construction will have a large impact on her drive.

“(It) depends,” Kunkel said. “My jeep is in and out of the shop a lot, so when I’m driving my dad’s truck it’s a little more difficult to navigate the construction.” 

Kunkel said after spending her life in the Midwest, she’s used to construction.

The projected completion date is June 30, 2018.