New Road to Economic Growth
Many communities across the U.S. have populations that are increasing at a rate where transportation infrastructure is falling behind the need to accommodate motorists. Communities wish to improve transportation infrastructure to enhance the local economy, the environment, and the community’s livability. Safety and traffic flow as well as economic development factors are of critical importance. Often by the time urban roadway infrastructure is scheduled to be worked on, the transportation needs are in a critical state that requires special coordination with regard to design considerations and construction. Communities that can build infrastructure in advance of critical need find the entire project development process easier, and often the results rewarding.
Sioux Falls 69th Street and Southeastern Avenue
The City of Sioux Falls, South Dakota invested $11.1 million to stay ahead of the growth demand with proactive transportation improvements on its 69th Street and Southeastern Avenue project. The City experienced rapid growth and increased demand on a collateral arterial roadway, 57th Street, which resulted in many typical challenges such as increased congestion, roadway deterioration, traffic safety concerns, roadway capacity deficiencies, and delay caused by at-grade rail crossings. When the City recognized their growth potential in the southeast side of their community, they committed to the 69th Street & Southeastern Avenue Improvements Project to reconstruct 69th Street from Charger Circle eastward through its intersection with Southeastern Avenue. Southeastern Avenue was also reconstructed from S. Chatham Street to St. Jerome Trail. HR Green was commissioned by the City to assist with the project that encompassed approximately one and a half miles of roadway.
Formerly a two-lane gravel road, 69th Street was converted to a multi-lane urban roadway that meets traffic demands and improves public safety. Increased traffic on 69th Street over the past few years had made this gravel roadway difficult to maintain in good repair. Additionally, a BNSF railroad crossing was a safety concern for students attending Sioux Falls Christian School.
The project includes a new bridge that resulted in closing the BNSF’s 5,000th at-grade railroad crossing which now carries 69th Street over the railroad for a safer passage. This bridge is a beautiful structure that contributes to the scenic quality of its wetland environment. Additionally, the embankments approaching the bridge were made possible by the use of more than 3,300 rammed aggregate piers, which strengthen the soils that would otherwise be unsuitable.
On the east end of the arterial roadway, a roundabout was included which exemplifies transportation innovation and increased intersection capacity for this busy intersection. This project was completed on time and within budget for the City of Sioux Falls, and the engineers’ opinions of probable cost were accurate and reliable. Project team members actively engaged the public throughout the project’s development to build understanding and enthusiasm. By constructing this arterial roadway in advance of a critical need for improved mobility the City is able to not only support area growth but also immediately leverage potential commerce and development opportunities with the finished roadway. The 69th Street and Southeastern Avenue Improvements project was a benchmark project that truly represents a preferred infrastructure development model.
Awards: Honor Award for the ACEC Engineering Excellence, Award of Merit by Engineering News-Record (ENR)