Sixth Street to see up to 7 lanes by summer 2018

The Sixth Street and 22nd Avenue intersection will be closed between May and August 2017 to redesign the intersection, creating a second left-turn lane. The construction is just one phase of a bigger project to widen Sixth Street. 


A $16 million construction project will close the busiest intersection in Brookings, forcing drivers to find a new route through town.

From May to August 2017, the 22nd Avenue and Sixth Street intersection will be shut down and completely redesigned as part of a beginning phase to a larger Sixth Street construction project.

Parts of the road, being one of the most used streets in Brookings, sees over 16,000 vehicles daily, according to the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT).                  

Construction will be completed in several phases, starting with 22nd Avenue going east to 34th Avenue the summer of 2017. After this part is finished, Sixth Street from the Medary Avenue and Main Avenue intersections will see improvements as soon as the following summer.

According to Mike Struck, the community development director for Brookings, the first phase is going to be a total reconstruction. The intersection of Sixth Street and 22nd Avenue will see additional lanes added to the intersection and parts of the road will have up to seven lanes.

“They’ll provide two left-hand turning lanes, two through [lanes] in each direction and then there’ll be a drop off lane to turn right as well,” Struck said.

This redesign is intended to help solve the traffic congestion on the southern part of 22nd Avenue and make the intersection safer. According to SDDOT, more than 84 accidents in the last six years have occurred in this intersection.

In the first phase of Sixth Street reconstruction, both bridges spanning over Interstate 29 will be replaced with one bridge to condense the road. That will eliminate the existing median separating the two directions of traffic. 

The intersection of Sixth Street and 25th Avenue near the BP gas station and the Days Inn will also be improved, Struck said.

“That is a very confusing intersection out there … with the striping and the traffic signals,” Struck said. “Just with the amount of truck traffic that runs through that intersection … they [SDDOT] found that they needed to provide a better intersection because you almost have to do a snake movement to get through.”

In addition, all frontage roads will be removed except for the one near 22nd Avenue, in front of the Perkins Family Restaurant. SDDOT is in the final planning stages and hopes to bid out the project in late June.

A later phase of Sixth Street construction is in the design stage. From the Medary Avenue to Main Avenue section of Sixth Street, the city of Brookings and the SDDOT want to implement a five-lane system, resulting in a center turn lane down this part of the street. The turn lane would give drivers a safe place to wait and turn versus backing up traffic when waiting to turn.

Lewayne Erickson, an attorney in Brookings, has an office sitting where the five-lane system is going to be implemented. during the 21 years his office has been on Sixth Street, rear-end accidents have been an issue. This is because turning is unsafe due to late turn signals and drivers not paying attention, Erickson said.

“My concern is safety, and I think that having a turning lane greatly enhances the safety of this five or six block area,” Erickson said.

To implement the five-lane system, the street will have to be widened, and a number of trees in the downtown area will be cutdown.

“It’s a beautiful area and it’s still residential, and there are still concerns as to the width of it, and we would lose some trees in the process,” Brookings Mayor Tim Reed said.

A protected bike lane could be implemented in this phase of construction as well. Reed said the road could be widened by at least four to five feet on each side. Larger storm water drains and basins will be installed during this phase of construction to help prevent areas flooding during heavy rains in this area.

City residents can give their input to the construction project, however, because Sixth Street is a part of U.S. Highway 14, the ultimate decision for change lies in the hands of SDDOT. They will foot the $16 million that it will take to revamp.

Since August 2012, SDDOT has been conducting traffic studies on Sixth Street to see which method would best control traffic and make the roads safest for drivers. The City of Brookings and SDDOT have been working together to find which road plans will best accommodate Brookings’ needs. Reed said SDDOT is open to discussion to hear what Brookings residents would like to see in an improved road.

“They [SDDOT] have what they would like to accomplish with the road, and as a city, you have what you would like to accomplish with the road because it is in your city,” Reed said. “It’s quite a long process, but it has evolved.”