Businesses want traffic signals reinstalled at 17th and Cliff

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 6:36 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The City of Sioux Falls is busy with road construction and improvements to keep up with growth around town. But there’s only so much money to go around, and that means certain projects or repairs need a closer look to see if the costs are worth the benefits. That includes the intersection of 17th Street and Cliff Avenue, where the traffic signals haven’t been operational for more than a year.

The signals weren’t turned off intentionally. In late 2021, an accident damaged the lights, and City Engineer Andy Berg said fixing them wouldn’t be easy.

“They were hit by a truck turning in that intersection. The damage was extensive enough that it would require reconstruction of that intersection.” Berg said.

But Berg said it’s not as simple as throwing the lights back up. If the city was to reconstruct the intersection, it would need to be updated to meet ADA requirements and other improvements. Since the time those signals were put up, the city’s requirements for having lights at an intersection have changed as well. After the accident at the intersection, the city has been studying the traffic volume and crash history of the area to see if much would change if the signals were reinstalled.

“This intersection isn’t currently meeting those typical warrants. So the process we’ve gone through is let’s leave it without the signal, evaluate it, see what the crash history does.” Berg said.

But leaving the intersection as is has made some area businesses uneasy. Goodcents has had a petition for people to sign that would urge the city to put the signals back. Across the street, Tyler Aldrich has owned and operated Ty’s Barbershop for almost four years near the intersection. He said while it isn’t always a busy intersection, a small hill on Cliff can make it difficult for drivers on 17th to see properly left and right.

“But with the blind hill and you’re headed east, it is a little hard to see up. Especially with traffic here on Cliff, it doesn’t always follow the speed limit.” Aldrich said.

Most of the signals have been left up at the intersection as well. Berg said this is because if the city does decide to reinstall and reconstruct the intersection signals, it would save time and money to do so. But Aldrich said even with the temporary stop signs put into place on 17th, the signals left up can confuse drivers.

“I mean, either put the lights in or take them all the way out. They have the lights that are still on the side poles. They’re not on obviously, but people will stop. Because they see a light and go, ‘Oh, it’s out.’ And then you get a four-way stop sort of thing going, and nobody knows what to do.” Aldrich said.

Berg said those studies by the city are almost done, and if the signals are needed they hope to have a plan soon on replacing them.