A $34.3 million reconstruction project on Benson Road and the Interstate 229 interchange is unfolding in Sioux Falls, S.D. (HDR photo)
A $34.3 million reconstruction project on Benson Road and the Interstate 229 interchange is unfolding in Sioux Falls, S.D. The undertaking, a combined effort by the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) and the city of Sioux Falls, includes construction of a diverging diamond interchange (DDI), structure development work and road widening.
"The northeast side of Sioux Falls continues to experience commercial and residential growth," said Steve Neumeister, SDDOT project engineer. "New development is beginning on the east side of Interstate 229 and the interchange. Arterial improvements will better accommodate future and projected traffic volumes for all movements at the interchange."
Neumeister noted the Benson Road interchange has experienced increased traffic usage over time.
"An additional left turn lane was added approximately 10 years ago. This interchange has now reached traffic capacity, warranting a new interchange featuring three left turn lanes on the Interstate 229 northbound off-ramp."
West of I-229, Benson Road will be widened to three lanes in each direction, with turn lanes and a raised median. East of I-229, Benson Road will be widened to two lanes in each direction with turn lanes, and a raised median. Additional improvements to Benson Road include concrete pavement; new bridge installation and existing bridge deck rehabilitation; water main, sanitary sewer repairs and installation; storm drainage improvements; streetlight and traffic signal improvements; new accessible curb ramps; and concrete curb and gutter.
Neumeister said creating a DDI will keep crews busy, as work on the project progresses.
"A DDI is a type of interstate interchange where motorists entering/exiting the interstate cross to the opposite side of the road as they go through the interchange. This allows for continuous movements onto the Interstate ramps. Signalized high volume left-turn movements, which are a typical challenge for a standard diamond interchange, are optimized with a DDI.
"DDIs have been shown to increase capacity and safety, reduce congestion and minimize the cost of new infrastructure. Advantages include improved safety by reducing the number of ways vehicles can collide; increased capacity by eliminating the left turn signal; and allowing traffic to flow more efficiently through the interchange, reduced delays and congestion and meeting the needs of all users, including motorists, large trucks, pedestrians and bicyclists.
According to Neumeister, beneficiaries will include the residents of Sioux Falls, the business district adjacent to the interchange and all members of the public traveling through the Interstate 229 corridor to and through Sioux Falls. The new DDI will simply better serve motorists traveling in the area.
"By allowing free left-hand turn movements, a turning car does not have to stop or yield to oncoming traffic before turning onto an Interstate ramp. The DDI will help improve safety, reduce current intersection delay and address future travel needs and growth. A DDI configuration was chosen based on a number of criteria, including the ability to handle current and future traffic demands, constructability, environmental concerns, landowner impacts and public input."
Work has included concrete paving east of I-229 on Benson Road, along with asphalt surfacing installation work. Bridge work continues over I-229, along with watermain, sanitary sewer and storm drainage pipe installation west of I-229.
As for how drivers are responding, said Neumeister, "The traveling public and business owners have been receptive and patient during the construction project and supportive of the reconstruction of the Benson Road interchange to improve capacity and safety. Congestion within the project limits has been minimal."
Work began in April 2023. The prime contractor is T&R Contracting.
"The contractors have worked hard with utility coordination and relocation," said Neumeister. "Generally speaking, the construction season is relatively short in South Dakota, requiring a lot of work to get done in a short amount of time."
Aggregates for the PCC pavement and asphalt concrete mixes are among the main materials being used. Granular material will be placed under the concrete and asphalt surfacing.
Heavy equipment required on the job includes GOMACO slipform PCCP pavers, as well as asphalt paving machines. Underground crews are utilizing excavators and rollers. The grading contractor has used pull-type scrapers, as well as dozers and rollers. When the grading contractor completes an area that's finished, a paving contractor mobilizes to the area and begins paving either asphalt concrete surfacing or PCC pavement.
Neumeister said it's satisfying to witness the progress being made each day.
"The construction crews are accomplishing a lot of work this season. The project is taking shape, and the prime contractor continues to drive the project forward."
According to the city of Sioux Falls website, 2023 milestones include bridge work, pavement removals, storm drainage improvements, grading, gravelling, concrete paving and restoration. The reconstruction project on Benson Road is scheduled to be finished by November 2024. The overall completion date is June 2025. CEG
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