85th Street & I-29 interchange to break ground as early as 2023
'This baby is going to be a game changer for the whole area'
A major highway project key to unlocking hundreds of millions of dollars in private development in southwestern Sioux Falls and northern Tea is entering the straightaway of the federal approval process.
Once an environmental assessment on the 85th Street and Interstate 29 interchange is approved, the new road network will be ready for construction. And Sioux Falls Public Works Director Mark Cotter says the massive road project could go out to bid as early as next year.
Environmental assessments are required under federal law when federal dollars are used for infrastructure projects, a process meant to ensure that a project isn’t harming sensitive habitat or disproportionately harming certain communities. But they can delay projects for years, as was the case for the Sioux Falls downtown rail removal project, which took more than a decade to come to fruition.
The environmental assessment for the 85th Street interchange has proven to be more complex than typical, Cotter said. That’s because its proximity to I-29 and Interstate 229 has required speed analyses as well as growth and wetlands studies.
“This particular environmental assessment has taken longer than a normal one, but we feel like we’re in the final stages,” Cotter said.
The final cost of the project won’t be known until it’s in final design, Cotter said, but the South Dakota Department of Transportation has about $50 million set aside in its statewide transportation improvement plan.